Ag Progress Days will take place August 14-16 at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center in Pennsylvania Furnace, Pennsylvania. Tour the high tunnels and see the research conducted by TunnelBerries personnel at Penn State University!
Tour details here >>>
We began work this year in a high tunnel in Benton Harbor Michigan to observe how a “V” trellis (Trellis Growing Systems, Ft Wayne IN) can improve raspberry cane management. Early this spring, the floricanes on potted raspberries were secured below 45 degrees on the right trellis arm. This caused the fruiting laterals (branches) to grow upwards on one side of the floricanes. This week, as the flower buds were visible on the laterals, the canes were secured in a vertical position on the left arm. The goal is to position the fruit on one side of the floricanes for easy picking, and keep the developing primocanes on the opposite side so they do not obscure the fruit.
Tabletop Strawberry Production System at the Michigan State University Agriculture Innovations Day, Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center, June 28th.
In Michigan, TunnelBerries personnel have set up a trial with a table-top strawberry system supplied by Haygrove Tunnels (thank you Haygrove!). We are planting day neutral varieties Albion and two MSU types (Redstart, Wasach) in coconut coir media.The trial is in a high tunnel in Benton Harbor, Michigan and will be on display during the MSU Ag Innovations Day on June 28. Come visit on the 28th and see how they are doing!
TunnelBerries researcher, David Conner of the University of Vermont, conducted interviews of 11 growers who utilize tunnels for berry production. Preliminary results suggest that tunnels can be very effective tools, particularly on smaller scales and with farms who sell directly to consumers.
TunnelBerries graduate, Heidi Anderson, joins the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to work on invasive insect project.
Congratulations to TunnelBerries graduate student, Heidi Anderson, who recently finished her degree at the University of Minnesota and landed a job with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture! In her new position, Heidi will be working on a project to improve the understanding of wood product import pathways in the state of Minnesota. Her main task is to develop and implement an educational and monitoring program for rustic wood products that will help vendors identify and intercept imported materials infested with potentially invasive wood boring insects. Best wishes Heidi! MDA is lucky to have you on their team!
TunnelBerries Advisory Board member Dale-Ila Riggs, has been having success protecting blueberries from Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) by using exclusion netting at her farm, The Berry Patch in Stephentown, New York. In this YouTube video, Dale describes how she completely prevented SWD infestation in her blueberry crop.
Congratulations to Heather Leach, a graduate student on the TunnelBerries project who recently completed her degree at Michigan State University and will be moving to her new job with the Pennsylvania State University! Heather will be an extension associate responsible for providing coordination to Spotted Lanternfly outreach and response efforts. Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive insect currently found in Pennsylvania that is capable of reaching highly damaging populations and can feed on many hosts - much like spotted wing drosophila. Best wishes Heather - Penn State is lucky to get you!
Seasonal Occurrence of Key Arthropod Pests and Beneficial Insects in Michigan High Tunnel and Field Grown Raspberries
TunnelBerries personnel Heather Leach and Rufus Isaacs recently published an article on their work describing insect communities in high tunnel versus field grown raspberries in the journal Environmental Entomology. Results show that the tunnel environment significantly alters populations of insect pests, natural enemies and pollinators. The complete article Seasonal Occurrence of Key Arthropod Pests and Beneficial Insects in Michigan High Tunnel and Field Grown Raspberries can be viewed at:
Double-cropping raspberries is a way to get two crops per season from one planting. The first crop is produced on floricanes in the summer and the second crop follows in the fall on primocanes. The V-trellis is one way to manage two sets of canes on one planting. This TunnelBerries’ video explains how to manage double-cropping with V-trellises.
The 2018 North American Raspberry and Blackberry Growers Association Conference (NARBA) in Ventura County, Southern California Feb. 21-24 was an excellent opportunity for growers and researchers to learn about berry production methods in this region of the U.S. Conference attendees toured several farms and the Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center. In the video clip below, C&N’s “Bug Vac” was demonstrated in the raspberry tunnels as one way to manage insect pests. Thanks to NARBA’s Debby Weschler and her California colleagues for another outstanding conference!
TunnelBerries has just published a video: "Raspberry Cultivars for High Tunnel Production". The seven featured cultivars include several new ones and covers performance and fruit quality of each.
I’m Maria Cramer-- a current Master’s student working on the Tunnel Berries project with Kathy Demchak and Rich Marini at the Pennsylvania State University. I joined the Tunnel Berries project in the fall of 2016. My research involves investigating possible changes the five types of plastics (and one uncovered treatment) on our 18 tunnels make to the pest populations inside the tunnels. The plastics have different qualities, transmitting varying proportions of UV and IR radiation. Literature and anecdotal evidence points to some of these impacting insect presence. This means I spend a lot of time picking Japanese beetles off of plants in the summer, and counting Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) samples in the winter. While quantifying the effects on these two particular pests, it’s also interesting to just observe the diversity of insects (and larger animals like tree frogs and black snakes) in our unsprayed high tunnels.
At this point in the winter, our plants are stored away from the fluctuating tunnel temperatures, and I’m spending my time counting samples, and analyzing data from the summer and fall. In the upcoming year, with two years of data on how the different plastics affect insect populations, I’ll look at how other cultural controls can be implemented for SWD. This includes assessing the effects of harvest intervals and the use of attracticidal spheres developed by Tracy Leskey’s lab in Kearneysville, West Virginia. The spheres are visually attractive to SWD and have wax caps that contain a feeding stimulant (a sugar) and a pesticide. These substances melt down to coat the sphere and SWD that land and feed on the sugar are poisoned. My overall goal is to develop strategies for SWD that would help organic and conventional raspberry growers reduce their pesticide usage and costs.
Data from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service illustrate what remarkable growth has occurred in the fresh red raspberry market. American consumers have really taken a liking to fresh red raspberries and the “off-season” has nearly disappeared due to increased volumes from Mexico. It will be interesting to see how this changes over the next few years.
Average monthly fresh raspberry prices in Midwest grocery stores since 2014 indicate that organic prices have been 25-30 % higher than conventional prices. The data also illustrate how consistent pricing has become from month to month, particularly for conventionally produced berries which no longer spikes during the Midwest winter months.
Blackberry management and yields under multi-bay high tunnels at Michigan State University: We are protecting some tender blackberries by covering them with row cover during the winter. This winter will be a real test as temperatures have dipped below 0 degrees F regularly during the last few weeks. Last winter rabbits got under the row cover and girdled most of the Natchez floricanes so this winter we installed fencing to prevent a repeat. The 2017 yield data is: Triple Crown was the most productive in 2017 (equivalent of 21,790 lb/acre) followed by Obsidian (6,700 lb), Columbia Star (4,340 lb) and the girdled Natchez (1,640 lb/acre).