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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #325746

Title: Automated cycled sprinkler irrigation for spring frost protection of cranberries

item NDLOVUA, FAITH - University Of Massachusetts
item JERANYAMA, PETER - University Of Massachusetts
item Kennedy, Casey
item DEMORANVILLE, CAROLYN - University Of Massachusetts

Submitted to: Agricultural Water Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/26/2017
Publication Date: 5/5/2017
Citation: Ndlovua, F., Jeranyama, P., Kennedy, C.D., Demoranville, C. 2017. Automated cycled sprinkler irrigation for spring frost protection of cranberries. Agricultural Water Management. 189:19-26.

Interpretive Summary: Irrigation of cranberries is key to preventing bud damage in the spring season, but requires large quantities of water. Scientists at University of Massachusetts and ARS evaluated a water-conserving irrigation method to determine its effectiveness in protecting cranberry buds from spring frost. They found that the new technology was equally as effective as conventional irrigation in frost protection while using 35-77% less water than conventional irrigation.

Technical Abstract: Sprinkler irrigation is essential for preventing spring frost bud damage in cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait). Risk-averse growers have been reluctant to adopt the intermittent cycling of irrigation pumps as a standard management practice. In the spring of 2013 and 2014, an experiment was conducted in Massachusetts to evaluate the efficacy of automated intermittently cycled irrigation (INT) against the conventional practice (CON). The objectives were to (i) assess the efficacy of the INT practice by evaluating cranberry bud damage and crop yield following frost events and (ii) quantify the amount of water applied in each method. Cranberry bud damage was assessed on cultivars ‘Stevens’, ‘Howes’ and ‘Early Black’ by cutting and examining buds. Water use was monitored using flow meters installed on irrigation pumps, and yield was determined. After more than 14 severe frost warnings, maximum values of bud damage increased to 13% for ‘Early Black’ and 8% for ‘Stevens’ under INT. Cumulatively, INT used 35% and 77% less water than CON in years 2013 and 2014, respectively. Yields were similar between the two frost protection methods within cultivar in both years. We conclude that INT provides levels of frost protection comparable to CON but with significantly less water use.