At the TunnelBerries University of New Hampshire research site, Kaitlyn Orde's day neutral strawberry beds are planted and waiting for the low tunnels to be constructed. White and black plastic mulches will be tested in addition to UV-transparent and UV-blocking plastic tunnel covers.
We released two commercially available (purchased from Koppert) natural enemies for whitefly control this week in the high tunnel raspberries: a predatory beetle, Delphastus catalinae, and a parasitoid wasp, Encarsia formosa. These are normally used in greenhouse production, but we are hoping that they can establish in the high tunnels too!
The images below are:
(L) Delphastus catalinae being introduced on raspberry leaves. The adult insects are shipped in a container with buckwheat hulls as a carrier.
(R) Encarsia formosa are introduced by placing cards on raspberry canes. The card hold parasitized whitefly pupae from which the parasitic wasps will hatch.
TunnelBerries has a YouTube channel! Check out our videos on a range of topics from tunnel venting to trellising systems for brambles. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLujqQ1oVtGFL-vhDZsXOtg
High tunnel studies to be conducted at Penn State University for the 2017 growing season include several venting systems to control the tunnel environment. Venting can be automated based on temperature, and motorized components are powered by solar panels. Systems to be tested include: ridge vents (see the image below), roll-up sides, side baffles, roll-up roof and manual venting.
We are just finishing the pruning our primocane-fruiting raspberries at the Michigan research site.Some plants are cut right to the ground so that they fruit only in the fall. We used loppers to prune our raspberries by hand, making sure to cut at ground level to remove all the low buds. Low buds can produce fruit that is hard to find and can become infested with spotted winged drosophila larvae. We are keeping canes on other plants so that they fruit on the 2nd year floricanes in July in addition to the new primocanes in the fall. This "double cropping" system has been increasing total yields and expanding the fresh market season.
Disappointing sight when we removed the row cover from our blackberries on a rotating cross-arm trellis. The plants and trellis are laid down and covered during the winter for protection from cold.
It appears that the protected environment also appealed to a critter (likely a rabbit), who snacked on blackberry bark and girdled many canes. He, she or they preferred the variety Triple Crown over Natchez, Columbia Star or Obsidian. The girdled canes will have to be removed along with a lot of fruit they would have produced this summer.
Hoops have been removed from the wind-damaged tunnel and will be replaced. The leg posts can be salvaged since the damaged bay was on one end of a series and only one arm of each leg post "Y" is used. Where an arm of a leg post "Y" was bent, we can turn the leg post 180 degrees and use the undamaged arm to connect to the new hoop.
High tunnel learning never stops. Last week on March 8th, a very unusual wind storm collapsed one of the tunnels in our multi-bay structure in East Lansing, Michigan. Winds blew between 40 and 50 mph for many hours, and gusts were likely higher. The west wind unraveled plastic that was bundled on the west side of the tunnel, pushed it up onto the structure, and proceeded to bend many of the hoops to the ground. A lot of reconstruction to do before the season begins. Lesson learned: make sure the plastic on the windward side of your tunnels is tied and secured with extra strength!
Last week the North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association (NARBA) and the Mexican Aneberries group hosted a tour of Mexican blackberry, raspberry and blueberry production. Debby Wechsler, NARBA Executive Secretary and TunnelBerries Advisory Board member and Eric Hanson, TunnelBerries Project Director, participated in the tour. Mexican producers have developed intricate production systems to manipulate plants in order to supply fresh berries to U.S. consumers during our off-season. Most are produced under high tunnels. Our Mexican hosts provided terrific hospitality and a wonderful open exchange of information including production, harvest, current research and the economics of farming and export. Thank you so much Aneberries! Sharing this information with U.S. growers will contribute to their ability to plan ahead and make profitable decisions.
Check out this article by Gary Pullano, Associate Editor, in the February issue of Fruit Grower News: http://digital.fruitgrowersnews.com/i/782694-february-2017
Work by TunnelBerries researchers Kathy Demchak at Penn State University and Marvin Pritts at Cornell University is featured.
Blackberry management at Michigan State University: temperatures over the next few days are expected to reach the 40s and 50s with lows in the 30s. We are protecting some tender blackberries (Columbia Star, Obsidian) by covering them with row cover during the winter. The plants will need to have the row cover removed during this warm spell to prevent them from breaking bud too early. We will cover them again when nighttime temperatures drop back in the 20s.
MOSES Organic Farming Conference: February 23-25, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Pre-conference course at Organic University: "Year-Round High Tunnel Options"
presented by Collin Thompson and Ryan Pesch.
Topics to be covered include high tunnel structural considerations, site and soil preparation, crop and irrigation configurations, and pest, disease, and weed management. Beginning and intermediate growers will learn how to maximize production and profits in high-value, protected spaces.
TunnelBerries researchers at the University of New Hampshire monitored the effect of low tunnels on the amount of marketable day neutral strawberries. Experiments conducted by graduate student Kaitlyn Orde resulted in tunnel-covered plots producing a larger percentage of marketable fruit compared to uncovered plots.
Register for this up-coming conference!