Back to top

Development of sustainable management strategies for large-fruited hybrid cranberry cultivars

Principal Investigator/Project Leader: 
Co-Principal Investigator/Co-Project Leader: 
Leela Saisree
Department of Project: 
UMass Cranberry Station
Project Description: 

Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station Project MAS00488
Duration: October 2015 - September 2019

Threats to the sustainability of cranberry production in MA and elsewhere in the U.S. come from many sources: consumer demands for sustainable but inexpensive products, commodity pricing in an industry that is currently over-supplied with juice concentrate, changes to industry fruit quality standards, rising costs for energy and pest management products, and changing standards in pesticide use to accommodate global marketing.

In efforts to maximize production efficiency and profitability, and in response to low per barrel (100 lb. unit of measure) pricing, cranberry growers have identified replanting to higher-yielding, large-fruited cultivars as a key practice that can increase their per acre returns.  However, currently common approaches to cranberry pest and water management may not be optimal for the newest cranberry cultivars.  In addition, cranberry processors are developing very stringent quality standards, including fruit firmness, for large-fruited cranberry cultivars used in the production of dried cranberry products.  All of this is taking place against a backdrop of climate change, which in itself, may necessitate change in management in response to overall increases in temperature and frequency of extreme events, including prolonged drought conditions.  We expect to see increased pressure from fungal diseases, increased potential for heat stress, and increased competition for water resources in the coming years.

In this project we will conduct on-farm research on large-fruited cranberry cultivars in Massachusetts to:

Determine the behavior and infestation patterns of the direct fruit pest, cranberry fruitworm on new large-fruited cultivars.
Determine the sensitivity of new cultivars to herbicides registered for use on cranberry.
Develop fungicide protocols for large-fruited cranberry cultivars that manage fruit rot disease, reduce the risk of fungicide resistance development, and minimize losses (maximize quality).
Demonstrate and document protocols for instrumented scheduling of irrigation.
Demonstrate the utility of in-day cooling irrigation for the prevention of fruit scald.
Determine the potential and any differential tendencies for genetic drift in newly established hybrid cranberry cultivar plantings.

The primary beneficiaries of this research will be Massachusetts cranberry growers and the handlers who receive the fruit.  Growers and handlers in other cranberry regions of the U. S. (Wisconsin, New Jersey, Pacific Northwest) will benefit to the extent that much of the knowledge gained in this project will be transferable to those regions. 

Recommendations for management of cranberry fruitworm, weed pests, fungal fruit rots, and irrigation specific to large-fruited cranberry cultivars developed during this project (outputs) will be adopted by MA cranberry growers.  As a result, growers will produce and deliver high quality fruit, maintain or improve yields, and improve profitability.

Agriculture topics: