Project Number: 1931-21000-025-00
Start Date: Nov 28, 2013
End Date: Nov 27, 2018
A whole-plant approach to maximize crop yield, fruit quality, and reduce adverse environmental impacts is needed to assure continued competitiveness of small fruit producers in the U.S. competing in the global marketplace. The proposed research uses a systems approach to combine overlapping areas of sustainable crop production. The goal is to mitigate the impacts of diseases and abiotic stress with improved crop management practices in order to ensure consistent and profitable production of small fruits. Studies will be conducted to: 1) determine the efficacy of new cultural treatments to mitigate low temperature damage, and accelerate and intensify floral bud initiation and subsequent reproductive development in blackberries; 2) improve understanding of mechanisms controlling flower development in strawberries and growth processes involved in regulating the flower size and inflorescence development by analyzing the effects of plant material source and environmental conditions for out-of-season fruit production; and 3) improve commercial mechanical blueberry harvester efficiency and quantify impact bruises during machine harvesting, field to packing house transportation, and packing house operation using an electronic sensor technology. Research into alternative production systems and evaluation of new germplasm is expected to provide new technology and create opportunities to produce blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries for the fresh market. These efforts will improve the viability of small fruit farming in several regions of the United States.