- Fruits: berries (cranberries)
- Crop Production: varieties and cultivars
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, on-farm/ranch research
- Pest Management: genetic resistance
Cranberry growers in Massachusetts (MA) are still mostly reliant on old cultivars, some of these cultivars like ‘Howes’ and ‘Early Black’ comprising 43.33% of total acreage have been cultivated by growers since 1843 and 1852 respectively. These cultivars have low productivity and are prone to diseases such as fruit rot. Additionally, MA does not have a breeding program for new cultivars. Growers in MA are interested in bringing in new hybrid cultivars from breeding programs in New Jersey and Wisconsin. However, without proper cultivar evaluation under MA growing conditions, growers are hesitant to do so because of the significant financial risk. The cost of renovating a cranberry bog is $10,000 to $25,000 per acre, and growers stand to lose out a lot when they ‘experiment’ with these new cultivars without proper evaluation. This project, conducted in conjunction with a partner farmer, will evaluate new hybrid cultivars under MA growing conditions and provide growers with reliable data to use in the decision making process when considering bog renovation. The partner farmer will renovate a cranberry bog to be used as a test plot. Twelve new hybrid cultivars from breeding programs will be evaluated under rigorous scientific conditions. The experimental design will be a randomized complete block design with four replications per treatment. The data generated from the project will be disseminated to cranberry growers and other interested stakeholders through on-site field days, grower meetings, social media, the UMass Cranberry station website, peer-reviewed extension manuals, and research journals.
Project objectives from proposal:
The project seeks to evaluate twelve new hybrid cranberry cultivars with improved fruit quality, yield, and disease resistance. Data will be collected on yield, fruit quality, ease of establishment, and disease resistance. The questions we will answer are:
- Do the new hybrid cultivars outperform the cultivars currently grown in MA in terms of yield?
- Do the new hybrid cultivars have better fruit quality (fruit color, fruit firmness, internal quality, berry size) compared to the cultivars currently grown in MA in terms of yield?
- Do the new hybrid cultivars have a lower incidence of fruit rot and other diseases compared to the cultivars currently grown in MA?
- Do the new cultivars establish quickly (grow into all the available space) and come into full production earlier than the cultivars currently grown in MA?
- Do these new cultivars outcompete weed species found in MA, or do they need extra care in terms of weed control?
The project will benefit cranberry growers in MA by providing reliable information on yield performance, disease susceptibility and fruit quality of new hybrid cultivars under MA growing conditions. Growers will then be able to make informed choices when renovating their cranberry bogs.