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Cranberry Station Current Projects

Recent technological improvements in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or drones offer new opportunities for improving precision agriculture in cranberry production. Currently, drones are not utilised extensively in cranberry production.  The objective of our research was to find ways in which drones can be used to aid cranberry growers. Specific goals include 1) use of drones for helping with frost protection 2) diagnosing nutrition deficiency on cranberry bogs 3) detecting insect damage on cranberry bogs 4) mapping weed infestations and 5) detecting diseases on cranberry bogs. The target audience of our research is cranberry growers, and the benefits will include developing tools that can be used for precision agriculture. This  will be done by develong maps that can be used for spot or variable rate applications. The research project will also identify sensors/cameras that can be used for the different applications and photogrammetry products that can be used by growers to develop maps for precision applications.

Cranberry production has a long history in Massachusetts (MA) that adds important economic and aesthetic value to the region.  About 30% of US acreage and the two largest cranberry handler companies are located in Massachusetts. Threats to the sustainability of cranberry production in MA and elsewhere in the US 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 (handler) fruit quality standards, rising costs for energy and pest management products, climate change, and changing standards in pesticide use to accommodate global marketing. 

The majority of cranberry acreage in MA is still under old cultivars with low productivity and poor disease resistance and MA does not have a breeding program for new cultivars. Growers in MA are interested in bringing in new hybrid cultivars from breeding programs in New Jersey and Wisconsin. However, without proper cultivar evaluation under MA growing conditions, growers are hesitant to do so because of the significant financial risk.  This project will evaluate new hybrid cultivars under MA growing conditions and provide growers with reliable data to use in decision making when considering bog renovation.


Lack of knowledge regarding Resistance Management (RM) and pesticide Modes of Action (MoA) was identified by providers as a hindrance to their ability to educate growers on these topics.  Most (>80%) extension specialists surveyed have never attended formal classes on RM and MoA during their academic or professional careers.  The project will address this need by conducting 4 webinars, providing Moodle resources, and producing a PowerPoint teaching module and accompanying video. The webinars will provide interactive, educational forums that focus on the basic principles of RM and MoA while also highlighting areas of special concern for Northeastern agriculture. Augmenting the training with the Moodle platform will allow attendees to confirm their common ground of understanding and knowledge, from which they can then extend to the grower community.  To ensure that a unified approach to RM is taught across the region, participants will be provided with a core module that will serve as the “seed” by which they can then develop a presentation that is tailored to the particular needs of any specific commodity group.