- Fruits: berries (cranberries)
- Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, energy use
Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) spring frost damage can result in major crop losses in as little as one hour, and total crop losses in one night. Cranberry buds are susceptible to spring frost damage resulting in partial or complete elimination of flowers for that year. Cranberry frost events often occur even when upland temperatures are above freezing due to accumulation of cold air in the low elevation bogs (production area)and because the large mass of cranberry vegetation is prone to radiational cooling on clear nights. In Massachusetts, application of water via the irrigation sprinkler system is the conventional approach used in frost protection. Traditionally, growers have run irrigation sprinklers throughout the night once the temperature on a bog reaches a set threshold. Although the method is effective, it uses a lot of fuel and water. Newly introduced automated sprinkler systems makes possible the cycling of the pumps during frost so that protection is maintained but water and fuel are conserved. The objective of this project is to compare the conventional frost protection method and an automated cycling irrigation protocol in protecting cranberry buds against spring frost damage. The research data obtained from this project will form a basis for recommendations for a frost protection method that is both effective in protecting the buds and will result in major water and fuel savings.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Evaluate the efficacy of automated irrigation cycling for cranberry frost protection by assessing cranberry buds.
for frost damage following frost events across frost protection methods.
2. Evaluate the effect of spring frost protection methods on plant density and fruit yield.
3. Quantify the amount of water applied and fuel used during the evaluated cycling protocols for both mild and severe frost events and compare to water use in a non-cycled protocol.
4. Synthesize the information gathered and distribute it to growers to encourage better water and land stewardship.