The Finger Lakes Produce Auction is a farmer owned cooperative, incorporated in 2001 in Penn Yan, NY. The establishment of this auction has created a marketing opportunity for local fruits and vegetables. Buyers come from throughout New York and Pennsylvania for flower sales beginning in April. Buyers have expressed interest in early season fruits and vegetables at these sales. Greenhouse and high tunnel tomatoes are currently the only early produce to accompany flower sales.
Researching and promoting other warm season crops that could be grown in high tunnels
and greenhouses more will provide new market opportunities for growers and help retain buyers at the auction throughout the growing season.
Cooperating farmer Howard Hoover constructed a 20’x96’ high tunnel for this project. Working together with Extension Associate Judson Reid a variety trial of colored bell peppers was initiated on May 10. An organic, biological root treatment (Bioyield) was applied in a split-plot design.
Harvest and data collection began on July 8, 2005 and ended October 25. Yield data was recorded for each harvest using a digital scale. Yields per block were recorded at each harvest with a digital scale. Total weight per block in pounds was recorded as well as number of fruit. Mean fruit per plant, mean fruit weight, and mean yield in weight per plant and mean boxes per block (.5 bu) were calculated. Data were analyzed using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and treatment means were separated using Fishers Least Significant Difference.
In our trial no significant difference was found between treated (Bioyield) and untreated plants as measured by mean fruit per plant, mean fruit weight or mean weight per plant. No relationship was observed between treatment and variety. Significant differences were observed between varieties (treated and untreated data aggregated). Blue Jay yielded significantly greater mean fruit per plant than all other varieties. Blue Jay, Early Sunsation and King Arthur yielded significantly greater mean weight per plant than Blushing Beauty and Red Knight.
The gross income from the highest yielding variety, Blue Jay, would be $2960 per 2000 square foot high tunnel if a price of 10/box were assumed. However, the grower prefers
having multiple varieties to create a mixture of colors for both wholesale and retail customers. Varieties Blue Jay, Early Sunsation and King Arthur were the highest yielding and fit this color spectrum. We concluded that peppers can be utilized in Northeast high tunnels, although their economic return is less than half that of tomatoes.
Our results were shared at the Finger Lakes Produce Auction annual meeting as well as
multiple on-farm demonstrations.
- To compare 5 colored bell pepper varieties in an unheated high tunnel by measuring yield in total weight, total number of fruit, and mean fruit weight.
To observe disease and insect pest trends in the high tunnel, and manage them in a sustainable manner.
To evaluate the effects of a beneficial fungus applied to the root system of peppers (Bioyield).
To share our information with other growers in the region.