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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Research Project #438542

Research Project: Understanding Water-Plant Interactions in Cranberry Farms

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Project Number: 8070-13000-015-009-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 31, 2025

The Cooperator will collect field data that will be used to refine models of frost protection for cranberries. The models will be tested against an existing model used by the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association to forecast frost events for cranberries. The Cooperator will also evaluate the effects of diurnal variation in soil tension on cranberry production. Finally, the Cooperator will assess regional trends in irrigation thresholds for cranberry production.

The Cooperator will install temperature, relatively humidity, and wind speed sensors in at least 10 abandoned cranberry farms. Data will be collected over two spring frost seasons and used to verify a frost protection model. Standard statistical techniques will be employed to evaluate model performance relative to an existing model. A greenhouse experiment will be conducted to test how sinusoidal variation in soil tension affects cranberry production. The Cooperator will test the hypothesis that extreme amplitude variation in soil tension adversely affects cranberry production, with higher production related to a more constant supply of irrigation. Various yield component metrics will be evaluated. Greenhouse experiments will include treatments of sprinkler irrigation (high amplitude), subsurface irrigation (low amplitude), and combinations of sprinkler and subsurface irrigation (medium amplitude). Data will be compiled from individual growers, many of which use a Hortau system for monitoring soil tension. Individual growers will be contacted and asked to share their data collected using the Hortau system. Other approaches, including surveys, will be used to compile a large dataset of soil tension thresholds used in the major cranberry producing states (MA, NJ, WI).