Extending the Season in Northern Wisconsin Through Processing Vegetable Production

Final report for ONC18-039

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2018: $29,891.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2020
Grant Recipient: Bayfield County UW-Extension
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Jason Fischbach
Bayfield County UW-Extension
Expand All

Project Information

Summary:

Vegetable producers in northern Wisconsin are having success marketing their produce via community supported agriculture, but with the very short growing season they are looking for ways to extend their marketing season. The Lake Superior CSA, for example, is operated by the Bayfield Regional Food Producers Cooperative and provides a Whole Diet share including meats, fruits, and vegetables from late-May through early-March. The winter vegetables are primarily storage crops like carrots, potatoes, garlic, and winter squash and to retain existing and attract new customers the growers want to diversify their winter vegetable offerings. In partnership with Jason Fischbach of UW-Extension, the growers have conducted on-farm research to optimize winter high-tunnel spinach production and through that work now supply spinach October-April. With that success, the growers would like to now optimize frozen vegetables for direct sale to consumers and to wholesalers.

 

In addition to expansion of regional CSA, the growers have partnered with Northland College to help meet the College’s goal of 80% local foods. To that end, Northland established the Food Lab, which includes a processing kitchen and blast freezer. Through this project, we will identify varieties of carrots, potatoes, green beans, and broccoli best suited for blast freezing.

Project Objectives:

1.Conduct on-farm variety trials to evaluate the yield, pest-resistance, and maturity of 5 varieties each of carrots, green beans, broccoli, and potatoes.

2a. Blast freeze samples of each of the varieties included in the farm trials for sensory panel evaluation of texture, color, and flavor at 1, 3, and 6 months after freezing.

2b. Blast freeze samples of 40 of the top performing varieties from the UW-Madison Seed-to-Kitchen vegetable variety trials for sensory panel evaluation of texture, color, and flavor at 1, 3, and 6 months after freezing.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand

Research

Materials and methods:

Objective 1 – Vegetable Field Trials

Vegetable variety trials were conducted over three growing seasons to quantify the production yields of different vegetable crops intended for both fresh market sales and freezing.  The trials were conducted at four on-farm locations in northern Wisconsin to encompass the range of soil conditions in the region: Great Oak Farm-Mason (outwash sandy loam), Northcroft Farm-Moquah (lacustrine clay loam), River Road Farm-Sanborn (riverine silt loam), Yoman Farm-Washburn (outwash sand).  Not all trials were conducted at all locations, as noted below. All trials were arranged with a split-plot design in a randomized complete block with the split-plot treatment being variety.  There were four replications for each variety at each location unless otherwise noted.  The plots were managed organically with weeds removed manually or with mechanical cultivation.  Fertility practices varied by location and consisted of pre-plant incorporated manure, pelleted chicken manure, or prior year green manure.

2018

Carrots: Five varieties of carrots (Belgrado, Bolero, Cambera, Cupar, Naval) were planted at each of the four locations on June 14 and June 15.  Each plot consisted of 4 rows, spaced 1ft apart with each row 6 ft long.  Each location had 4 replications of each of the 5 varieties.  Weeds were managed by hand and cultivation.  At harvest, the number of merchantable and non-merchantable carrots were counted to determine percent merchantable.  The total plot weight of the merchantable carrots was recorded to calculate the weight per merchantable carrot.

Fall Broccoli: Five varieties of broccoli (Asteroid, Emerald Star, Emerald Crown, Gypsy, Imperial) were planted at each of the four locations.  Plants were started in a greenhouse in plug trays on June 1 and transplanted to the field on June 28 and June 29.  Heads were harvested before the curds started to open and weighed to determine total plot weight.  The number of harvested heads was recorded to determine average weight per head.

Green beans: Five varieties of green beans (BAO958, Jade 2, Momentum, Prevail, Sybaris) were planted on June 14 at each of the four locations.  Each plot had two rows each 10’ long with 2’ between rows and 2” between plants.  Beans were picked two times to determine total plot weight.  At each picking the number of plants was counted to determine lbs of beans per plant.

Potatoes:  Five varieties of potatoes (Dark Red Norland, Gold Rush, Bintje, Russet Burbank, and Russet Norkotah) were planted at each of the four locations on May 23 (Yoman) and June 8 (Great Oak, River Road, Northcroft).   Each plot had one 6-foot long row with seed potatoes planted at 12” spacing within each row.  A very wet June (including 6+” of rain in a single evening rainstorm resulted in the potatoes at all four trials rotting.  As such, the trials were not completed in 2018.

2019

Carrots:  The trials were implemented the same as in 2018 with harvest occurring October 15-17th.

Fall Broccoli: The trials were implemented the same as in 2018.

Green Beans: The trials were established the same as in 2018, however, the plots at the Northcroft location experienced heavy deer browse and were ruined.  Germination and plant survival at the Great Oak site was poor and yields were reduced.

Potatoes: Four varieties of potatoes (Bintje, Gold Rush, Norland Red, Russet Burbank) were established at all four location in 2019 on June 6.  The total plot weight and number of tubers was recorded at harvest to determine the average individual tuber weight.

2020

Spring broccoli:  Four varieties (Belstar, Gypsy, Covina, Batavia) were planted at each three locations on May 13 (Great Oak, Northcroft, and River Road).  Each plot consisted of two rows with 18” in-row spacing and 24” between rows spacing for a total of 12 plants per plot.  Heads were harvested when mature and weighed for a total plot weight and average individual head weight.  In addition, the average head diameter was determined.

High tunnel carrots: Five varieties (Negovia, Nectar, Napoli, Yaya, and Romance) were planted at each of two locations (Northcroft and Great Oak).  Each plot consisted of 3 rows each 4’ long with 12” between rows.  The Great Oak seeding failed as the germination was very poor.  At harvest, the number and weight of merchantable and non-merchantable carrots was recorded.  Fifteen individual marketable carrots were selected at random and average weight and root length were measured.

Field carrots: The same varieties were planted in the field at the same locations.  Plots were the same as for the high tunnel carrots except the field carrot plots had 6’ long rows.  The same response variables were measured.

High tunnel snacking peppers: Five varieties (Mini Red Bell, HMS Orange, Doe Hill, Lunchbox Orange, Snackabelle) were started in the propagation house in early-March and transplanted into the high tunnels in mid-April. The trial was conducted at three locations (Great Oak, Northcroft, River Road).  Peppers were picked when ripe to determine total marketable weight, total marketable count, total non-marketable, and percent marketable.  In addition, the weights of 15 individual peppers chosen at random were recorded to determine average pepper weight.

Butternut squash: Five varieties of small butternut squash (Hamilton, Nutterbutter, Butterbaby, Brulee, Butterscotch) were trialed at three locations (Great Oak, River Road, Northcroft).  Plants were started in the greenhouse and transplanted on June 8.  Plots each had 6 plants in a single row.  All squash were harvested when the plants had frosted and dried down.  Marketable and non-marketable squash were counted and weighed.  In addition, 15 randomly selected marketable squash were weighed individually.

Objective 2: – Taste Testing

We conducted a sensory panel tasting of the harvested carrots, green beans, and broccoli from the 2018 harvest.  We also did a tasting trial with butternut squash varieties grown in Spooner, WI.  Immediately after harvest, the produce was hydrocooled and transported to Northland College.  The produce was then cleaned, chopped, and place on freezer trays for blast freezer.  Frozen product was vacuum packed in pouches and stored at 0F until tasting.  At tasting, the samples were thawed and then steamed until soft.  Tasters then rated the intensity of sweetness, acidity, and bitterness on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being not intense and 5 being very intense.  Tasters were also asked to rate the overall flavor from 1 to 5 with 5 being high quality.  The tastings were held on November 29, 2018 and again on February 18, 2019.  For the 2019 trials, a tasting was held on January 25, 2020 for the carrots, green beans, broccoli, and potatoes.  The potatoes were par-boiled and then fried in oil.  The other vegetables were steamed.  The second tasting scheduled for the 2019 harvests was canceled due to covid restrictions.  

 

Research results and discussion:

2018 Vegetable Trial Results

Carrots.  Tables 1-4 below show the carrot yields of the five varieties across the four trial locations.  Values within a column with a different letter are statistically different at the P=0.05 level.  Bolero and Cupar tended to have better germination resulting in a greater number of carrots per plot (Table 1).  The percent of the carrots that were merchantable tended to be the same within a given location but varied widely across locations with only 62% merchantable at Great Oak, buy nearly 100% at Yoman Farm, for example (Table 2).  Individual carrot weights also varied by location, but also by variety.  Belgrado tended to be the largest and Bolero the smallest (Table 3).  Total merchantable plot yields varied widely across sites with the lowest yields at Great Oak due to the lower stand counts and lower individual carrot size.  There was no statistically significant differences among the varieties for total yields at the Great Oak, Yoman, or Northcroft sites, but at the River Road site Cupar was the highest yielding and Cambera the lowest.  In general, looking across all the sites, Bolero and Cupar had the highest merchantable yields and Cambera and Naval had the lowest yields.

Table 1. Total Number of Harvested Carrots        
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
Belgrado 53 a 67 b 72 c 94 b 71
Bolero 109 a 191 a 144 ab 195 a 160
Cambera 54 a 74 b 53 c 126 b 77
Cupar 86 a 158 a 146 a 136 ab 131
Naval 49 a 76 b 85 bc 117 b 82
Average 70   113   100   134   104

 

Table 2. 2018 Percent Merchantable Carrot Yields      
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
Belgrado 63% ab 83% a 67% ab 96% a 77%
Bolero 61% ab 84% a 77% a 94% a 79%
Cambera 69% a 79% a 67% ab 96% a 78%
Cupar 51% b 83% a 72% ab 95% a 75%
Naval 65% ab 86% a 61% b 97% a 77%
Average 62%   83%   69%   96%   77%

 

Table 3. 2018 Average Merchantable Individual Carrot Weight (lbs)
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
Belgrado 0.12 a 0.19 ab 0.30 a 0.32 a 0.23
Bolero 0.08 a 0.10 c 0.15 b 0.17 b 0.12
Cambera 0.12 a 0.18 abc 0.23 ab 0.20 b 0.18
Cupar 0.10 a 0.12 bc 0.19 b 0.21 b 0.15
Naval 0.14 a 0.21 a 0.22 ab 0.19 b 0.19
Average 0.11   0.16   0.22   0.22   0.18

 

Table 4. 2018 Total Merchantable Carrot Plot Weight (lbs)    
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
Belgrado 4.2 a 10.7 a 14.5 abc 26.7 a 14.0
Bolero 5.9 a 15.8 a 16.4 ab 30.1 a 17.1
Cambera 4.4 a 10.4 a 7.9 c 22.2 a 11.2
Cupar 5.1 a 15.0 a 20.0 a 25.8 a 16.5
Naval 4.7 a 13.0 a 11.3 bc 22.5 a 12.9
Average 4.9   13.0   14.0   25.5   14.3

Green Beans. Table 5-6 shows the per plant green bean yields for the entire season.  There were no statistically significant difference among the varieties except at Northcroft Farm were Jade 2 and Momentum had higher yields than the other three varieties.  In general, the green bean trials showed that yields were pretty similar and thus variety selections could be based on other factors such as flavor or bean size.

Table 5. 2018 Season Total Per Plant Green Yields (lbs/plant)      
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
BA0958 0.07 a 0.21 b 0.12 a 0.08 a 0.12
Jade 2 0.10 a 0.35 a 0.15 a 0.11 a 0.18
Momentum 0.11 a 0.34 a 0.12 a 0.11 a 0.17
Prevail 0.09 a 0.23 b 0.13 a 0.12 a 0.14
Sybaris 0.12 a 0.19 b 0.08 a 0.08 a 0.12
Average 0.09   0.26   0.12   0.10   0.14

 

Fall Broccoli. The primary interest in the fall broccoli trials was average head size, which translates into high total yields.  Table 6 shows the average weight of the harvested heads at the four locations for each variety.  The head size varied significantly across the locations with River Road producing the largest heads, on average.  In general, average head size was fairly similar for the different varieties at each location with the exception of Emerald Star, which tended to produce the smallest heads. 

Table 6. 2018 Average Broccoli Head Size (lbs)        
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
Asteroid 0.84 ab 0.85 a 1.18 ab 0.77 a 0.91
Emerald Crown 0.84 a 0.76 a 1.32 a 0.61 a 0.88
Emerald Star 0.38 b 0.65 a 0.84 b     0.62
Gypsy  0.87 ab 0.84 a 1.25 a 0.65 a 0.90
Imperial 0.66 ab 0.75 a 1.13 ab     0.84
Average 0.72   0.77   1.14   0.68   0.83

 

2019 Vegetable Trial Results

Carrots. Tables 7-9 report the 2019 field carrot trial results for the same varieties trialed in 2018.  Establishment success was better than in 2018 with higher plant numbers per plot (Table 7).  Interestingly, Bolero and Cupar tended to have better germination and higher stand counts in both 2018 and 2019.  Individual carrot size again varied considerably across the varieties with Belgrado and Cambera tending to be the largest and Bolero the smallest (Table 8).  As in 2018, Bolero and Cupar tended to have the highest plot yields due mainly to the higher germination rates (Table 9).

Table 7.  2019 Total Number of Harvested Carrots Per Plot  
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
Belgrado 142 181 160 129 153
Bolero 279 367 318 139 276
Cambera 140 170 177 91 144
Cupar 240 360 209 168 244
Naval 159 175 207 80 155
Average 192 250 214 121 194

 

Table 8.  2019 Average Weight Per Merchantable Carrot (lbs)  
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
Belgrado 0.30 0.13 0.40 0.29 0.28
Bolero 0.16 0.08 0.20 0.23 0.17
Cambera 0.29 0.15 0.34 0.39 0.30
Cupar 0.21 0.08 0.28 0.29 0.21
Naval 0.22 0.14 0.29 0.32 0.24
Average 0.24 0.12 0.30 0.31 0.24

 

Table 9.  2019 Total Plot Weight of Harvested Carrots (lbs)  
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
Belgrado 42.3 24.1 63.8 38.6 42.2
Bolero 45.3 27.5 62.9 32.5 42.1
Cambera 40.0 26.1 59.9 35.0 40.2
Cupar 48.7 28.1 58.3 47.0 45.5
Naval 34.8 24.8 59.9 26.2 36.4
Average 42.2 26.1 60.9 35.9 41.3

Green Beans.  Season total green bean yields in 2019 varied considerably across the three trial locations, due in part to deer browse damage.  Jade2 followed the typical pattern for Jade of poor germination, which contributed to the low per plot yields.  At River Road where plants were most vigorous and yields were highest, Momentum and Sybaris tended to yield more than the other varieties.

Table 10.  2019 Per Plot, Season-Total Green Bean Yields (lbs)
  Great Oak River Road Yoman Average
BA0958 2.1 10.6 3.8 5.5
Jade 2 0.9 7.0 1.8 3.2
Momentum 1.9 14.0 4.1 6.7
Prevail 2.4 12.2 5.2 6.6
Sybaris 4.4 14.6 4.3 7.7
Average 2.3 11.7 3.9 6.0

Fall Broccoli. Table 10 shows the average head size for the five broccoli varieties at the four trial locations in 2019.  Head size was remarkably similar across the locations and varieties.

Table 10.  2019 Average Broccoli Head Size (lbs)    
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
Asteroid 0.76 0.81 0.72 0.68 0.74
Emerald Crown 0.65 0.81 0.57 0.72 0.69
Emerald Star 0.67 0.56 0.62 0.42 0.57
Gypsy  0.80 0.74 0.67 0.68 0.72
Imperial 0.63 0.81 0.69 0.60 0.68
Average 0.70 0.75 0.65 0.62 0.68

Potatoes.  The potato trials in 2018 failed due to historic rainfall, but in 2019 the trials were a success.  Total tuber count tended to be highest for Bintje and lowers for Norland Red at each location (Table 12).  Average tuber weight tended to be lowest for Bintje (Table 13).  Despite the smaller size, Bintje had the highest plot yields and from the flavor surveys it made the best french fries.

Table 12.  2019 Total Number of Tubers Per Plot      
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
Bintje 46.5 36.0 45.8 46.8 43.8
Gold Rush 35.3 21.5 24.8 26.0 26.9
Norland Red 22.0 18.5 22.5 20.4 20.8
Russet Burbank 36.5 20.0 23.0 28.3 26.9
Average 35.1 24.0 29.0 30.3 29.6

 

Table 13.  2019 Average Individual Potato Tuber Weight (lbs)  
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman  
Bintje 0.29 0.17 0.19 0.17 0.20
Gold Rush 0.36 0.18 0.29 0.26 0.27
Norland Red 0.44 0.20 0.13 0.42 0.30
Russet Burbank 0.42 0.23 0.34 0.24 0.31
Average 0.38 0.20 0.24 0.27 0.27

 

Table 14.  Total 2019 Potato Plot Weight (lbs)    
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Yoman Average
Bintje 13.4 6.3 8.6 7.8 9.0
Gold Rush 13.0 3.7 7.1 6.5 7.6
Norland Red 9.2 3.6 3.2 6.1 5.5
Russet Burbank 14.3 4.6 7.0 6.6 8.1
Average 12.5 4.6 6.5 6.8 7.6

2020 Vegetable Trial Results

Tables 15-18 show the results of the snacking pepper trials.  Table 17 is of perhaps most interest in that it shows the relatively low merchantability of the peppers at two of the three locations, particularly for the HMS Orange Picnic and Mini Red Bell varieties.  Most of the peppers were deemed just too small for commercial sale.  Doe Hill and Snackabelle Red tended to produce the largest of the peppers.

Table 15. 2020 Number of Marketable Peppers Per Plot (4 plants)    
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Average
Doe Hill 15.3 35.3 16.0 22.2
HMS Orange Picnic Pepper 5.3 51.8 7.5 21.5
Lunchbox Orange 9.8 35.0 12.5 19.1
Mini Red Bell 6.5 42.8   24.6
Snackabelle Red 8.0 50.8 20.8 26.5

 

Table 16. 2020 Plot Weight Of Marketable Peppers (lbs)    
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Average
Doe Hill 2.0 4.5 2.4 3.0
HMS Orange Picnic Pepper 0.5 3.2 0.5 1.4
Lunchbox Orange 1.0 2.8 1.1 1.6
Mini Red Bell 0.7 2.8   1.8
Snackabelle Red 1.1 6.0 2.4 3.2

 

Table 17. 2020 Marketable Pepper Percentage    
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Average
Doe Hill 40% 93% 57% 63%
HMS Orange Picnic Pepper 13% 92% 19% 41%
Lunchbox Orange 34% 97% 34% 55%
Mini Red Bell 19% 78%   49%
Snackabelle Red 20% 99% 44% 54%

 

Table 18. 2020 Average Individual Pepper Weight (g)    
  Great Oak Northcroft River Road Average
Doe Hill 60.1 60.2 65.9 62.1
HMS Orange Picnic Pepper 39.6 27.7 30.7 32.7
Lunchbox Orange 45.0 34.0 39.3 39.5
Mini Red Bell 45.9 28.7   37.3
Snackabelle Red 50.1 48.7 53.8 50.9

High Tunnel Carrots.  Table 19 shows the high tunnel carrot yields at the Great Oak Farm and Northcroft Farm sites in 2020.  Carrots are typically only grown in the high tunnel when sold as early season green-top bunching carrots that can command a higher price.  At both sites, the performance of the five varieties were fairly similar though Nectar and Napoli tended to have higher plot yields and slightly larger carrots. 

Table 19.  2020 High Tunnel Carrot Measurements    
  Average Merchantable Plot Weight (lbs) Merchantable Count Percent Merchantable Average Root Length (in) Average Carrot Weight (lbs)
Great Oak Farm        
Napoli 10.2 36.5 56.2% 5.7 0.18
Nectar 10.7 34.0 65.7% 5.7 0.19
Negovia 7.6 38.1 53.4% 5.7 0.15
Romance 6.0 23.9 63.2% 5.8 0.14
Yaya 6.4 36.9 61.8% 5.5 0.16
Northcroft Farm        
Napoli 7.6 34.3 59.8% 6.4 0.23
Nectar 7.9 38.5 60.2% 6.3 0.20
Negovia 5.6 32.3 41.1% 6.1 0.18
Romance 7.0 38.3 69.7% 6.2 0.18
Yaya 5.5 30.0 52.6% 5.9 0.20

Field Carrots. Table 20 shows the number of merchantable and non-merchantable carrots harvested on average per plot for each variety and location.  It was not a good year for the carrots as many were small, forked, or otherwise misshapen.  Merchantability was highest for Yaya at Great Oak and highest for Romance and Negovia at Northcroft.  As shown in Table 21, the higher merchantability result in higher average plot yields for Yaya at Great Oak and Negovia at Northcroft.

Table 20.  2020 Field Carrot Counts and Merchantability    
  Merchantable Count Non-Merchantable Count % Merchantable
  Great Oak Northcroft Great Oak Northcroft Great Oak Northcroft
Napoli 14.8 6.8 44.5 32.8 25% 17%
Nectar 12.3 7.0 25.0 35.5 33% 16%
Negovia 24.3 23.8 52.5 66.0 32% 26%
Romance 4.5 15.3 15.8 33.8 22% 31%
Yaya 39.5 12.0 30.0 67.5 57% 15%

 

Table 21.  2020 Field Carrot Yields        
  Merchantable Weight (lbs) Average Weight (lbs) Ave Length (in)
  Great Oak Northcroft Great Oak Northcroft Great Oak Northcroft
Napoli 4.6 2.0 0.27 0.26 5.8 5.6
Nectar 4.0 1.9 0.30 0.26 9.5  
Negovia 6.4 5.9 0.25 0.24 5.8 6.2
Romance 1.1 4.3 0.25 0.29   5.6
Yaya 9.0 2.9 0.19 0.25 5.4 5.2

Spring Broccoli.  Each plot started with 12 plants.  Flea beetle damage at Great Oak farm reduced survival and deer browse severely damaged the plots at River Road.  However, survival and harvests at Northcroft were good.  In general, Belstar produced the largest heads at all three locations. Head size at all three locations was not particularly large in part due to early flowering and the need to pick before flowering occurred.

Table 22.  2020 Spring Planted Broccoli Yield and Head Size
  Average Number of Heads Per Plot Average Head Diameter (in) Average Head Weight (lbs) n
Great Oak Farm      
Batavia 4.0 4.1 0.48 3
Belstar 6.5 4.1 0.61 4
Covina 6.0 3.2 0.40 3
Gypsy 9.8 3.5 0.44 4
Northcroft Farm      
Batavia 9.3 2.3 0.17 3
Belstar 7.8 3.0 0.42 4
Covina 9.5 2.9 0.38 4
Gypsy 8.3 2.6 0.38 4
River Road Farm      
Batavia 3.5 3.5 0.43 2
Belstar 3.0 4.6 0.72 1
Covina 4.5 3.5 0.47 2
Gypsy 3.0 1.2 0.18 2

Fall Broccoli. The size and weight of the broccoli heads varied by planting location (Table 23).  At the Northcroft Farm site, the varieties had a similar head diameter, except for ‘Diplomat’, which was slightly smaller.  ‘Eastern Magic’ tended to produce the largest heads.  At the Yoman Farm site, Emerald Crown tended to produce the largest heads. 

Table 23.  2020 Fall Planted Broccoli Yield and Head Size (Yoman)
  Ave. Head Diameter (in) Ave. Head Wt. (lbs)
Northcroft Farm    
Diplomat 5.1 0.72
Eastern Magic 6.1 0.92
Emerald Crown 5.8 0.90
Fiesta 5.9 0.81
Imperial 5.9 0.84
Yoman Farm    
Diplomat 5.8 0.84
Eastern Magic 5.2 0.83
Emerald Crown 5.6 0.96
Fiesta 4.5 0.65
Imperial 5.6 0.88

Butternut Squash.  Table 24 shows the results of the 2020 butternut squash trials.  The planting at Northcroft Farm suffered from significant deer browse and yields were considerably reduced.  The planting at River Road Farm did very well.  Nutterbutter and Hamilton had the highest yields due in part to the larger fruit size.  Ripening butternut in far northern Wisconsin has always been a challenge.  At the River Road trial the reason for un-merchantable fruit was immaturity at harvest.  Brulee, Butterbaby, and Hamilton all had good maturation, and with the high yields, Hamilton was the all-around winner.  However, at Great Oak Farm, Butterbaby was the overall winner.

Table 24.  2020 Butternut Squash Yields     
  Merchantable Plot Weight (lbs) Average Individual Weight (lbs) Merchantable Count % Merchantable
Northcroft Farm        
Brulee 6.3 1.3 4.8 45.2%
Butterbaby 4.3 1.7 2.5 37.0%
Butterscotch 3.1 1.8 1.8 36.8%
Hamilton 1.9 2.5 0.8 21.4%
Nutterbutter 4.9 2.8 1.8 38.9%
River Road Farm        
Brulee 54.9 2.1 26.3 73.8%
Butterbaby 38.9 1.3 29.7 76.7%
Butterscotch 48.1 1.2 39.3 66.7%
Hamilton 88.0 3.3 26.7 75.5%
Nutterbutter 106.8 3.2 33.3 58.5%
Great Oak        
Brulee 18.4 1.4 13.8 67.9%
Butterbaby 25.9 1.7 17.0 74.7%
Butterscotch 15.2 2.4 6.0 23.1%
Hamilton 26.6 2.8 9.3 33.0%
Nutterbutter 23.4 2.9 9.0 62.1%

Objective 2 – Frozen Veg Taste Testing

2018 Tasting Results
After harvesting, the producer was hydro-cooled and shipped to Northland College where it was washed, chopped, frozen, and vacuum-packed.  Three tasting events were held.  Two for the 2018 harvest and one for the 2019 harvest.  The plan was to do two for the 2019 harvest, but Covid-19 restrictions at Northland College prevented us from doing so.

Broccoli. Figure 1 shows the taste attributes of the broccoli varieties harvested in 2018, frozen, and tasted at 1 month and 4 months after harvest.  Tasters rated the intensity of each flavor attribute from 1-5 with 5 being the most intense.  “Overall Flavor” is the tasters’ overall preference of the the variety.  As the data show, the 2018 broccoli was rated is highly bitter and overall flavor preference was low. No single variety tasted better than others and there was not consistent change in flavor from 1 month to 4 months.

Figure 1.  Taste Attributes of 2018 Frozen Broccoli At 1 Month (Nov) and 4 Months (Feb) After Harvest    
  Imperial 1 Emerald Star Asteroid Gypsy Emerald Crown Imperial 2
  Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19
ACIDITY  1.8 1.8 1.5 2.3 1.7 2.3 1.9 1.8 2.4 2.0 1.7 2.2
APPEARANCE 3.2 3.2 2.7 2.8 4.3 3.7 3.7 3.0 3.8 3.5 4.1 3.7
BITTERNESS 4.1 2.8 4.0 3.7 3.1 3.3 2.9 3.5 3.9 4.0 4.3 3.0
INTENSITY  3.8 3.0 3.7 3.4 3.4 3.8 3.2 3.6 4.3 4.2 4.3 3.6
SWEETNESS 1.7 1.5 1.7 1.8 1.6 1.3 2.2 1.5 1.6 1.5 1.4 1.8
TEXTURE 3.6 3.5 3.4 3.3 3.6 3.3 4.0 3.5 3.9 3.8 3.7 3.3
OVERALL FLAVOR 1.8 2.3 1.8 1.8 2.1 1.7 2.8 1.8 2.0 1.8 1.8 1.7

Carrots. Figure 2 shows the taste attributes of the frozen (then steamed) carrots at 1 month and 4 months after harvest.  In general, the intensity of the flavor components and the overall flavor preference decreased from 1 month to 4 months.  Bolero and Naval rated as having the overall highest quality flavor.

Figure 2.  Taste Attributes of 2018 Frozen Carrots At 1 Month (Nov) and 4 Months (Feb) After Harvest      
  Belgrado 1 Cambera Cupar Naval Belgrado 2 Bolero
  Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19
ACIDITY  1.6 1.7 1.6 1.5 1.7 1.5 1.7 1.5 1.3 1.5 1.6 1.8
APPEARANCE 4.3 3.5 4.3 4.0 4.7 3.5 4.4 3.8 4.1 4.2 4.4 4.2
BITTERNESS 1.9 1.7 1.6 1.7 2.2 1.8 1.7 1.8 1.4 2.3 1.6 1.7
INTENSITY  2.9 2.7 3.0 2.5 2.9 2.7 3.3 2.8 3.2 3.4 3.4 3.2
SWEETNESS 3.3 3.0 3.8 3.2 3.0 3.0 3.8 3.3 3.7 3.0 4.3 3.5
TEXTURE 3.8 3.2 3.7 3.5 3.6 3.3 3.9 3.3 3.6 3.3 4.1 4.5
OVERALL FLAVOR 3.3 2.5 3.8 3.2 3.1 2.8 4.0 3.2 3.6 2.7 4.1 3.5

Green Beans.  Figure 3 shows the flavor attributes of the frozen green beans (then steamed) at 3 months and 7 months after harvest.  As with the carrots, the overall flavor declined during storage with the Nov ratings tending to be higher than the Feb ratings.  BAO958 had the highest rating for overall flavor and sweetness.

Figure 3.  Taste Attributes of 2018 Frozen Green Beans At 3 Months (Nov) and 7 Months (Feb) After Harvest    
  Momentum 1 Prevail Momentum 2 Jade2 BAO958 Sybaris
  Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19
ACIDITY  1.6 2.0 2.0 2.2 2.0 1.5 1.8 1.8 2.2 1.8 1.9 2.0
APPEARANCE 3.7 2.7 3.8 3.8 4.2 4.2 3.4 3.0 4.1 4.0 3.8 3.2
BITTERNESS 2.0 2.8 2.7 2.3 2.1 2.5 3.2 2.2 2.2 2.3 2.7 2.4
INTENSITY  2.9 3.0 3.0 2.8 3.3 2.7 2.9 2.8 3.0 2.7 3.1 3.4
SWEETNESS 3.0 2.2 2.3 2.8 2.9 2.7 2.8 2.7 3.6 2.5 3.3 2.4
TEXTURE 4.0 3.3 3.9 3.3 3.9 3.3 3.1 3.5 3.3 3.7 2.6 3.0
OVERALL FLAVOR 3.0 2.2 3.3 2.7 3.1 2.8 2.4 2.8 3.4 2.8 3.0 2.6

Butternut Squash.  Figure 4 shows the flavor attributes of butternut squash varieties grown at the Spooner Agricultural Research Station.  At the November tasting the Waltham and Nutterbutter had the highest rated overall flavor.  In general, however, there was not consistent differences among the varieties with respect to flavor.  Havana was included in the blind taste testing as a measure of variability and the differences in the two samples reflects the overall variability and lack of differences among the varieties.

Figure 4.  Taste Attributes of 2018 Frozen Butternut Squash At 1 Month (Nov) and 4 Months (Feb) After Harvest          
  Havana Doran Autumn Frost Waltham Nutterbutter Tiana Havana 2 Waldo
  Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19 Nov-18 Feb-19
ACIDITY  1.1 1.7 1.3 1.5 1.1 1.5 1.5 1.7 1.3 1.7 1.4 1.7 1.3 1.5 1.5 1.3
APPEARANCE 3.7 3.7 3.9 4.0 4.1 4.0 4.0 3.5 3.7 3.5 4.2 4.2 4.1 3.7 4.2 4.2
BITTERNESS 1.4 1.0 1.3 1.0 1.3 1.2 1.6 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.9 1.6 1.8 1.0 1.8 1.0
INTENSITY  2.7 2.7 2.7 2.7 3.0 3.0 3.0 2.7 3.2 3.0 2.4 2.7 2.7 3.5 2.1 2.5
SWEETNESS 3.1 2.7 2.9 3.8 2.9 2.8 3.4 2.7 3.0 2.8 2.6 2.3 2.8 4.2 2.7 2.3
TEXTURE 3.4 3.7 3.6 3.5 3.4 3.5 3.7 3.2 3.9 3.7 3.3 3.5 3.2 4.0 3.1 3.5
OVERALL FLAVOR 3.3 2.8 3.2 3.7 3.3 3.5 3.7 2.5 3.7 3.0 3.0 2.7 3.2 4.2 2.8 3.2
Participation Summary
4 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

15 Consultations
2 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
4 On-farm demonstrations
1 Tours
2 Webinars / talks / presentations
3 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

25 Farmers
6 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

In 2018, each farm served as a demonstration site for each cooperator to show customers, neighbors, and other vegetable growers. There were two outreach events held.  The first was at the Northland College Food lab to show the freezing facility and for tasting the frozen vegetables.  Jason Fischbach presented the results from the 2018 trials at a Seed-to-Kitchen update meeting in Spooner, WI using the presentation linked in the results section of this report.  Two of the grower cooperators assisted Jason with the presentation.

Jason presented the results of the 2019 trials at a Seed-to-Kitchen update meeting in Ashland in January of 2020.  This same event also featured a taste-testing with the 2019 trial produce.  Covid-19 then came along and shut down our 2020 on-farm and in-person programming.  We also were unable to complete the second taste-testing of the 2019 produce. Here is the presentation of the 2018 and 2019 results to vegetable growers at the Seed-to-Kitchen meeting in January 2020 in Ashland, WI: South-Shore-Veggie-Trials_Jan-2020_SARE-report 

We are still working to compile all the 2018-2020 data into a single Research Bulletin for distribution to growers in our region. 

Learning Outcomes

25 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Key changes:
  • Variety selections

Project Outcomes

4 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
1 Grant received that built upon this project
5 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

Agricultural research is the backbone of sustainable agriculture as it provides research-based information to guide decision making.  This project provided real-world training and experience to four farms (and their employees) on how vegetable variety trials are conducted.  Besides learning how different varieties performed, perhaps the most important lesson learned is the importance of replication and controls.  The farm cooperators were surprised at how different the varieties performed at different locations and among the different replications within a location.  These cooperators have been implementing our protocols on other aspects of the their farms when it comes to evaluating varietal differences of other crops, testing tillage practices, and evaluating different lighting for micro-green production.

This project has also trained in three agricultural workers on vegetable research.  Two are now employees of Northland College who are implementing what they learned in their own curriculum.  The third, Sarah DeGraff, is now a Master’s candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will be implementing two more years of vegetable variety trials in northern Wisconsin with new grant funding secured because of this project.

With respect to the specific objectives of this grant, the goal was to find varieties of broccoli, grean beans, carrots, and potatoes that would do well in the field and in tasting trials after freezing.  We were also able to extend the grant for one year to evaluate performance of small-fruited butternut squash and snacking peppers.  As is usual with vegetable variety trials, the data are somewhat messy, but some conclusions can be made:

Bintje did well in the field trials and had, by far, the best flavor after freezing and frying.

Yaya and Negovia are recommended for field carrot production.

Nectar and Napoli performed best in the high tunnel carrot trial.

Cupar and Bolero had the best germination, which is important for field carrots.  Cupar also had the highest total plot yields, but they also had the lowest average size, due in part to the higher number of carrots per row-ft.  Thus, if planting these two varieties it is important to thin or use the lower end of seeding rates.

Sybaris and Momentum were the best performing green bean variety in the field.  There were not big differences in flavor among the green bean varieties in 2018.  But in 2019, Momentum and Sybaris had the highest rated flavor, suggesting these would be good options for freezing markets.

In 2018 and 2019, Asteroid and Gypsy both had the largest head sizes.  The 2018 flavors were all pretty bad due to bitterness resulting, we think, from failure to cool the broccoli heads fast enough after harvest.  However, in 2019, Gypsy had the highest rated flavor.

There is such a thing as snacking peppers that are too small, apparently.  Mini Red Bell and HMS Orange Picnic were all deemed too small by our growers.  Doe Hill, Snackabelle Red, and Lunchbox Orange produced good yields of suitably-sized snacking peppers. 

Though the 2020 spring broccoli planting did not perform very well, in general, Batavia had the largest head size across the three locations.

 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.