The preliminary forecast is for VERY GOOD keeping quality.
As of April 1, there are 6 points out of a possible 10 that favor keeping quality for the 2019 Massachusetts cranberry crop. The 6 points were based on the previous total year sunshine hours which were less than 2,274 hours (4 points). In our case the previous total year sunshine hours were 2,154 hr. In addition, an extra 2 points were awarded for favorable sunshine hours for March which were more than the 50-year average for that month. Consequently, the preliminary forecast is for VERY GOOD keeping quality.
The final keeping quality forecast (issued after June 1) could be upgraded if we have a cool and dry April and May, otherwise it could be downgraded to as low as FAIR. Unless the final keeping quality forecast worsens or you have areas with a history of high fruit rot disease pressure, the preliminary forecast suggests that fewer fungicide applications and/or using less than the maximum recommended fungicide application rate may be sufficient for proper fruit rot management. However, keep in mind that all chemical applications should be carried out according to product label instructions and that due to fungicide resistance concerns you should never use less than the lowest recommended fungicide rate.
As for holding late water this spring, the preliminary forecast offers no compelling reason to use late water to enhance fruit quality at harvest. Since the final forecast could be as low as FAIR (if no further points are gained in April and May), late water may still make sense for beds with high fruit rot history. Before considering this practice, assess if there was any major winter injury or if plants display any other stress symptoms and consider carefully your reasons for using later water.
Peter Jeranyama, Plant Physiology