Cranberry Station Completed Projects
In order to meet sustainability standards being mandated by customers and to ensure long-term viability for their farms, cranberry growers have recognized the need for improvement in water, nutrient, and pest management. Improvements in these practices have great potential for cost savings and for environmental enhancement and will eventually be required under any adopted sustainability certification program. Major Massachusetts cranberry insect, weed, and disease pests are cranberry fruitworm, dodder, and fruit rot, respectively. These pests also challenge cranberry production in other U. S. regions including, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Washington, and Oregon. The use of conventional pesticides is the predominant approach employed to control these pests. Long-term sustainability for the Massachusetts cranberry industry requires the integration of reduced-risk pest management alternatives.
Maintaining optimal saturation levels and draining ponded water remains a challenge for many cranberry growers in southeastern Massachusetts. Wet conditions as a result of inadequate drainage in cranberry production could result in increased root rot and fruit rot diseases, inhibition of root development, reduced fruit retention and reduced productivity. Subsurface tile drainage provides a mechanism for removing excess moisture from the soils by draining to field capacity in a reasonable time so that plant growth is not significantly impaired. Without artificial drainage, plants have difficulty establishing a healthy root system on poorly drained soils since excess water prevents air and oxygen from getting to the plant root zone. In addition, subsurface tile drainage can be used to reduce overhead irrigation usage by effectively managing water from below.
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.