Combating Extreme Climate Events in High Tunnel Raspberry Production While Analyzing Methods for Organic Weed Control

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2024: $30,000.00
Projected End Date: 05/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Alstede Farms LLC
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Rebekah Alstede Modery
Alstede Farms LLC
Colin Manning
Alstede Farms LLC


  • Fruits: berries (brambles)


  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, high tunnels or hoop houses, irrigation, organic fertilizers, pollination, varieties and cultivars, water management
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: farmers' markets/farm stands, farm succession, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, mulches - general, mulches - killed, mulching - plastic, row covers (for pests)
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, organic certification
  • Soil Management: composting, organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Sustainability and resiliency are
    two key factors that must be addressed in agricultural
    operations. As a farm entering its second generation, we want to
    ensure that we farm in a way that will be viable for the
    generations to follow. It is essential to implement practices
    that profitably combat high costs of labor and extreme weather
    events caused by climate change. We are investing into more high
    tunnels and entering new organic fruit markets to become more
    resilient to extreme weather events and more sustainable in our
    practices. By utilizing organic high tunnels, we can reduce
    chemical costs while preventing diseases on brambles caused by
    moist, rainy conditions. Additionally, growing brambles in a
    controlled environment allows us to compare different methods of
    weed control between the rows to further reduce the labor and
    costs needed to successfully farm organically. In addition to
    weed control, these different mulches also contribute to the
    health of our soil. The market for organic fruit is growing, and
    we are striving to meet that demand while remaining a sustainable
    business both economically and environmentally. We feel that our
    project allows us to look into organic production and find
    labor-saving solutions for farmers of all sizes. We plan to
    collaborate with our technical advisor and Rutgers Cooperative
    Extension to conduct Twilight Meetings and host other farmers to
    share our progress and successes. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our objectives for this project
    will guide us throughout our experiment and will give direction
    when creating our final report at the end. Our first objective is
    to examine the production of certified organic raspberries in a
    high tunnel in New Jersey through growing floricane and primocane
    varieties in a high tunnel. Our second objective is to evaluate
    weed control efficacy of landscape fabric, leaf cover, and straw
    mulch on certified organic high tunnel raspberry row middles.
    This includes weekly monitoring of the type, season, and density
    of the weeds growing in the tunnel. Our third objective is to
    evaluate the impact of weed control strategy on the growth and
    yield of certified organic high tunnel raspberries. We will
    analyze the fruit on the canes for firmness, color, and
    concentration. Our fourth objective is to compare the cost
    requirements of the three weed control strategies for certified
    organic weed management to see if they are more cost effective
    than hand weeding labor costs. Our fifth objective is to
    demonstrate certified organic high tunnel raspberry production
    and weed control methods to local farmers through various on-farm
    tours and meetings.

    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.