Alternative Strategies for Cranberry Production in the Northeast
Low-input cranberry production is being demonstrated at four commercial bogs due to implementation of this project in 1990. A fifth site, under traditional management, is serving as a check bog. In comparison to bogs under IPM programs, significant reductions in pesticide and fertilizer inputs were achieved with no loss in fruit quality. Improved water quality was demonstrated in this first year and change in water quality continues to be a key objective owing to the intensive use of surface water in cranberry production. Due to the perennial nature of the crop, cranberry management systems must be evaluated over time (four to five years) before economic and productivity data become meaningful to growers. Thus, we are seeking the maximum continuation of 2.5 years.
The northeast is the world’s largest cranberry growing region; however, bogs are concentrated in environmentally sensitive areas (NJ Pine Barrens, MA estuarine drainage basins). Environmental concerns pose a threat to cranberry farming by current practices that require intensive chemical inputs (ca. 2,500 tons of farm chemicals annually in the northeast) to maintain high yield. On the other hand, the market for cranberry products is increasing and the economies of growing regions are heavily dependent on cranberry growing, directly and indirectly. In order to preserve the environment, as well as the cranberry industry, chemical inputs in cranberry cultivation must be lowered while preserving the profitability of this form of agriculture.
Our goal remains the demonstration of low-input efficacy/profitability in cranberry production. Many of the scientists working on this project are involved in research aimed at lowering chemical inputs (mycoherbicides, disease-resistant varieties, biocontrols, non-chemical fertilizers). However, the majority of these techniques are unrefined and/or untested. This is the focus of the component research objective for the project, with a major focus to develop a novel type of fertilizer that is more efficient than current formulations, thus allowing substantial lowering of doses. Our long-term goal is to study low-input cranberry production from a whole-farm perspective, integrating, demonstrating and evaluating (including economics) prior and concurrent research in consultation with growers.
(1) Continue demonstration of low-input practices, implement all low-input/sustainable methodologies as they become available through component research, and compare the results of these practices to results in bogs managed by currently accepted practices.
(2) Continue to quantify effects of low-input production.
(3) Produce further economic analysis of low-input production.
(4) Continue to carry out demonstrations and communication.
(5) Continue to conduct concurrent research projects:
c. Insects and Mites