Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Kearneysville, West Virginia » Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory » Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement, and Protection » Research » Research Project #436410

Research Project: Integrated Production and Automation Systems for Temperate Fruit Crops

Location: Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement, and Protection

Project Number: 8080-21000-032-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jun 16, 2020
End Date: Jun 15, 2025

Objective 1: Develop improved monitoring and/or management strategies for invasive and persistent native pests in orchard, small fruit, and/or controlled environment agroecosystems. [NP305, C1, PS1B&1D] Sub-objective 1.A. Identify and/or understand the impact of specific biological stimuli on behavior and ecology of invasive and persistent native arthropod pests. Sub-objective 1.B. Utilize behavioral, ecological and biological knowledge of invasive and persistent native arthropod pests to develop improved monitoring and management tools, and technology. Objective 2: Analyze key whole tree and rootstock-scion interactions; and develop and integrate new plant phenotyping systems to assist in the evaluation of key traits in orchard agroecosystems. [NP305, C1, PS1B&1D] Sub-objective 2.A. Generate new knowledge of apple rootstock-scion interactions based on manipulation of the deep rooting 1 (DRO1) gene. Sub-objective 2.B. Develop new knowledge for potential variety releases and optimized production practices for novel ‘Supersweet’ nectarine selections. Sub-objective 2.C. Develop computer vision and/or robotic plant phenotyping systems for shape analysis for use by plant breeders, physiologists, and horticulturists. Objective 3: Develop improved horticultural practices to improve fruit quality, nutrient and water use efficiency, growth habits, harvest, and/or yield in orchard, small fruit, and/or controlled environment agroecosystems. [NP305, C1, PS1B&1D] Sub-objective 3.A. Develop new knowledge and use of shorter ultraviolet irradiation (~220 nm) on growth and development of strawberry plants. Sub-objective 3.B. Use knowledge of adventitious root initiation and subsequent shoot growth on Rubus species to develop improved management tools and technologies for production of primocane-fruiting blackberry and their reproductive development. Sub-objective 3.C. Understand the impact of catching surface design on mechanical blueberry harvester on fruit quality and develop improved fruit catching design. Sub-objective 3.D. Create methods to compute tree architecture and apply pruning protocols to fruit tree models. Objective 4: Develop new alternative management systems for pests and diseases in orchard, small fruit, and controlled environment agroecosystems that control pests and diseases during production and after harvest. [NP305, C1, PS1B&1D] Sub-Objective 4.A. Control of strawberry diseases and arthropods using UV-C/dark period/antagonist treatment and its effect on organoleptic, chemical, and microbial quality of the fruit. Sub-Objective 4.B. Control of postharvest brown rot of stone fruits. Objective 5: Analyze rapid apple decline disease etiology and develop small scale or scale neutral technologies for managing tree fruit diseases to enhance the economic and ecological sustainability of small farm orchard production. [NP305, C1, PS1B] Objective 6: Generate new knowledge of soil-plant interactions on small farm orchards in new production areas and develop new tools and technologies for enhancing marginal soils with sustainable inputs. [NP305, C1, PS1B]

The goal of our multi-disciplinary project is to enable growers to increase both ecological sustainability and economic competitiveness in modern fruit production systems. Entomological, computer engineering, horticultural and post-harvest plant pathology disciplines, and expertise will be integrated within this project to accomplish proposed objectives and generate new knowledge, technology, and tools. Objective 1 will utilize laboratory, semi-field and field-based behavioral and chemical ecology techniques to study invasive and persistent native pests, and result in monitoring tools and management strategies for invasive and persistent native pests of orchard and small fruit agroecosystems including brown marmorated stink bug, spotted lanterfly, spotted wing drosophila, and apple maggot fly. Objective 2 will include greenhouse and field-based horticultural studies of ‘Supersweet’ nectarine selections and transgenic apple rootstock overexpressing deep rooting gene (DRO1), and development of a simple computer vision and/or robotic system for plant phenotyping. New knowledge generated will provide optimized production practices for ‘Supersweet’ nectarines, new knowledge of whole tree physiology and rootstock-scion interactions enabling growers to customize fruit tree orchards based on production region, and plant phenotyping technology enabling optimal identification of superior cultivars, clones, rootstocks, and rootstock/scion combinations for improved crop quality. Objective 3 will include greenhouse and field studies aimed at improving advanced machine harvesting technology for fresh market blueberry, alternative systems for the management of primocane-fruiting blackberries that can be used to improve and increase yield from late summer to early winter, and new knowledge on plant response to short wavelength light irradiation to enable earlier harvest times; and studies aimed at establishing orchard technology. Objective 4 will include studies of alternative methods for controlling pre- and post-harvest brown rot fruit decays with heat and GRAS materials, and of UV-C irradiation technology with specific dark period and microbial antagonists against pre- and post-harvest diseases and arthropod pests.