TunnelBerries Researchers Developing New Berry Production Strategies for the Upper Midwest and New England
Growing berry crops in the northern states is challenged by cold winters and short, wet summers, prompting farmers to looking for a ways to meet the ever growing consumer demand for fresh, high quality berries. TunnelBerries researchers from the US and UK convened in Michigan and Pennsylvania to develop a strategy for just that, by growing berry crops in protective structures in the form of tunnels covered with plastic sheeting help to provide some protection, allowing northern farmers to produce berries crops profitably in areas usually hampered by poor weather conditions. Plastic covered tunnels also have the potential to minimize damage from insect pests and plant diseases, thereby reducing the need to apply pesticides.
Bumblebees are used for pollination in our high tunnels. The hives are mail-ordered and come in the form of a small cardboard box. Bumblebees don't mind working on cool, cloudy days and are very effective pollinators in high tunnels because they are not hindered by the effects of plastics on light quality. Floricane raspberries will be ripening in the next week or two.
Fruit Production Under High Tunnels: Can Midwest growers make money growing fruit under high tunnels?
High tunnels are relatively low cost greenhouse-like structures that have been shown to increase yields and quality of several fruit crops. Beginning in 2010, organic and conventional production of red raspberries, sweet cherries and blackberries have been studied under an acre of multiple bay high tunnels (Haygrove Tunnels LTD) at the East Lansing site. Rufus Isaacs and Heather Leach (Entomology) will lead discussions on insect management approaches. Plant pathologist Annemiek Schilder will review disease challenges, and Eric Hanson, Greg Lang and Josh Moses (Horticulture) will discuss production systems and tunnel management. Vicki Morrone (Organic Ag Outreach Specialist) will be on hand to review general organic production topics. The meeting is open to anyone; no pre-registration is required. Please join us for a tour and discussion of organic and conventional fruit production under high tunnels. The meeting is on Tuesday July 5, from 6:30 to 8:00 at the Horticulture Teaching and Research Center, 3291 College Road, Holt, Michigan 48842
Contact Eric Hanson (phone: 517-353-0386, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
Raspberry sawfly has made its appearance in the multi-bay high tunnel raspberry planting at the East Lansing site. Numbers and damage are much higher than in past years. The larvae are well camouflaged, but the damage they inflict is obvious. The larvae will feed for two to three weeks, skeletonizing leaves on new growth. This is not such a problem for primocane fruiting raspberries since the canes have plenty of time to recover before flowering and fruiting in the fall. It's a different story for the floricanes which are almost ready to flower. Loss of leaf area on floricanes now will reduce fruit yield in mid-summer. Since our raspberries are grown organically, raspberry sawflies will be managed with a pyrethroid that is labelled for organic production. To protect bees that may
be in the planting, the application will take place late in the evening when bees are back in their hives.
K. Hanson: Tunnel Berries Outreach Coordinator