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Plant Nutrition Research

Plant Nutrition Program 2016

Carolyn DeMoranville with assistance from Krystal DeMoranville

Cranberry nitrogen budgets with focus on floods and rain events 

The partnership of the Cranberry Station and ARS with the Coalition for Buzzards Bay and Marine Biological Laboratory continued in 2016, completing a 20-month study of 3 bogs that focused on flooding and large rain events as potential exporters of nutrients.  Some of our findings:

  • Total N flowing into and out of the bogs was generally low. One bog had a net N output of 1.3 kg N/ha (surface and groundwater outputs were higher than inputs). Two bogs had net N retention of 3.0 and 6.7 kg N/ha (surface and groundwater outputs were lower than inputs). 
  • All bogs had net P outputs carried by precipitation, surface and groundwaters.
  • Outputs ranged from 1.0 to 2.8 kg P/ha.  Measurements of net N and P losses to surface waters from these bogs were similar to or lower than previous estimates.
  • Most N outputs (77-97%) and most P outputs (80-96%) were in outflowing surface waters.

Use of tile drainage

From 2012 to 2106, with funding from NE-SARE, Cranberry Station faculty worked with a team of growers to study the use of tile drainage.  In 2016, we completed the final report for the project, including a Best Management Practices document and a project summary Fact Sheet

Research results confirmed the consensus practice of growers - 20 foot spacing between the tiles provides adequate but not excessive drainage and accommodates common in-ground irrigation designs.  We learned from research and grower experiences that the optimum depth for tile installation is more site-specific, depending on soil texture, sub-grade depth and composition, and site hydrology.  Over 200 cranberry growers were surveyed at the end of the project; 85 responses were received from growers who were the decision-maker for the farm.  These growers represented 64% of the Massachusetts cranberry acreage.  During the project they installed tile on 747 acres (6% of the MA acreage) and planned to install on an additional 347 acres by the end of 2017.  Of those that installed tile since 2012, 37% reported that information from this project changed how they used tile or encouraged them to use tile for the first time.  Of the 39 growers who installed tile into existing cranberry beds (retrofit), 70% reported increased yield and improved fruit quality (less fruit rot).  Below is an example of outcomes reported by growers:

Outcomes from retrofitting tiles  

Cranberry nutrient management

Major revisions were made to the chart book in 2015 to reflect decades of research work in nitrogen and phosphorus management.  Further revisions of the Nutrient Management section of the Chart Book were made in 2016 to reflect Nutrient Management Regulations put forward by MDAR.  In addition, templates and digital calculators were designed for growers to use in nutrient management planning and regulatory compliance.  Nutrient management information and tools may be found here.  

The Compendium of Blueberry, Cranberry, and Lingonberry Diseases and Pests

This year, the revised compendium was finally released by APS Press.  This project was several years in the making and is the second edition of the original that was published in 1995.  The resulting 231 page book will be an excellent, if expensive resource.  Anne Averill and Frank Caruso served as editors and contributors.  DeMoranville contributed information on six topics related to aboitic disorders (those not caused by biological agents like diseases and insects).

Comparison of controlled release, soluble granular fertilizers, liquid fertilizers, and an organic liquid fertilizer

Over the past several years, field trials were conducted with various fertilizer formulations.  In 2016, we set out to compare some of these materials in a large scale demonstration at State Bog and Rocky Pond Bog.  At State Bog, Sections 1 and 3 received only liquid fertilizers; Section 2 received controlled release fertilizer; Section 4 was treated with our standard granular program.  At Rocky Pond, the North side received our standard program and the South side was treated with a combination of granular fertilizers and the organic liquid (made from fish waste and waste from the Ocean Spray craisin line).

From each treatment area, we collected fruit samples to estimate crop, soil and tissue samples for analysis of nutrients, and vegetation samples to determine plant growth.  A presentation from the January 2017 meeting regarding the outcomes can be found on ScholarWorks.



Kennedy, C., P. Kleinman, and C. DeMoranville. 2016. Spatial scale and field management affect patterns of phosphorus loss in cranberry floodwaters.  Journal of Environmental Quality. 45: 285-293.

Jeranyama, P., J. Sicuranza, H. Hou, and C. DeMoranville. 2016. Shade effects on chlorophyll, gas exchange, and nutrient content of cranberry vines exhibiting yellow vine syndrome.  J. Applied Hort.  accepted for publication

DeMoranville, C. and C. Kennedy. 2016. Comparison of controlled release and soluble granular fertilizers on cranberry growth, yield, and soil nutrients. Acta Horticulturae (ISHS) submitted

Kennedy, C., P. Jeranyama, and C. DeMoranville. 2016. Causes and effects of poor drainage in cranberry farms. Acta Horticulturae (ISHS) in press

Jeranyama, P., C. DeMoranville, and C. Kennedy. 2016. Evaluating tensiometers and moisture sensors for cranberry irrigation. Acta Horticulturae (ISHS) in press

Ndlovu, F., P. Jeranyama, C. DeMoranville, and M. DaCosta. 2016. Spring frost control method effects on cranberry bud damage and fruit yield. Scientia Horticulturae  submitted