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High Tunnel Bramble Production. Kathy Demchak Penn State University. What Are High Tunnels?. Low-cost protective structures similar to a greenhouse, but less infrastructure, no floor Use methods similar to field production with minor changes

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high tunnel bramble production

High Tunnel Bramble Production

Kathy Demchak

Penn State University

what are high tunnels
What Are High Tunnels?
  • Low-cost protective structures
    • similar to a greenhouse, but
    • less infrastructure,
    • no floor
  • Use methods similar to field production with minor changes
  • Or, more similar to greenhouse production (soilless media)
  • Multi-bay or single-bay
variations
Variations
  • Tunnels where climate control is automated in some way
    • For single bays
    • Additional inputs making culture more similar to greenhouse production
  • Rain shelters
multi bay tunnels1
Multi-Bay Tunnels
  • No tolerance of snow load
  • Plastic gathered for winter
    • 3-season tunnels
  • Plastic gathered at top during high winds (>20mph), hot days
  • Multi-bay size: depends on no. of bays (std 24\' wide/bay), 100-1400 ft long
multi bay use
Multi-bay Use
  • All significant high tunnel bramble acreage (so far) is multi-bay
  • California: 4400 acres – raspberries
  • Oregon: 50 acres – blackberries
  • British Columbia: 10 acres – red raspberries
  • Ontario: 14 acres, raspberries
single bay tunnels1
Single-bay Tunnels
  • Single bay size: 14 to 30 ft wide

36 to 150 ft long

  • Can be kept closed for winter
    • 4-season tunnels
  • Moderate snow OK if peaked design
  • Closed when windy
  • Used mainly in colder areas with short growing season
single bay use
Single-bay use
  • NJ, PA, MD, OH, UT, MN, IN
  • No “real” statistics
  • Acreage is low
    • One common (17’ x 96’) commercial-sized single bay =

0.04 acres

bramble crops grown in high tunnels
Bramble Crops Grown in High Tunnels
  • Red raspberries

Primarily primocane-bearers

  • Blackberries
  • Black raspberries - limited
primary sought benefits
Primary Sought Benefits
  • Extend spring & fall growing seasons (especially with

single-bay)

  • Protection from rain (single and multi-bay)
  • And wind (single-bay)
environmental changes relative to field single bay
Environmental Changes Relative to Field – Single Bay
  • No moisture on foliage from rain or irrigation
  • Placement and amount of water is controlled
  • Higher humidity
  • Warmer air temperatures
    • Mild in winter
    • Can be hot in summer
  • Warmer soil temperatures
    • Lack of soil freezing during winter
environmental changes relative to field multibay
Environmental Changes Relative to Field – Multibay
  • Same benefits as single bay when covered
  • Differences are no winter protection (can be an advantage with insects and leaching of salts)
  • Can fully vent on hot summer days
resulting in
Resulting in…
  • Longer growing season – earlier and later yields
  • Plants generally grow much larger than in field
    • Higher yields
  • Can grow some crops that we couldn’t otherwise due to short growing season or cool temps
  • Changes in pest complexes
conditions at rock springs
Conditions at Rock Springs
  • Short growing season
    • Last frost: Last week of May (officially May 15)
    • First frost: First week of October
    • Low yields for primocane-bearing raspberries
  • Typical winter lows of 0F, some years -15F
    • Winter injury (?) on blackberries
  • Highest temps in summer in 90’s
  • Windy
primocane bearing raspberries
Primocane-Bearing Raspberries
  • Reasoning behind trying them?
    • Much of the potential yield of primocane-bearers remained in the field as green fruit
  • Can we increase yields by extending the season?
brambles 2000 05 1 st planting
Brambles: 2000-05 (1st planting)

‘Autumn

Britten’

‘Heritage’

‘Triple Crown’

raspberries 2000 05
Raspberries 2000-05
  • 2000-01: comparison of cvs, plus in-ground vs. containerized (Earth Boxes) with 2 types of media
  • 2002 and 2003: comparison of cvs, trying different cane densities for summer crop
  • 2004: comparison of cropping time (summer + fall vs. fall only)
  • 2005: 2-3 canes/ft for summer
mkt yields 2001 2005
Mkt. Yields, 2001-2005
  • If only fall crop: 11,400-13,600 lb/acre
    • Highest in field previously: 5000 lb/acre
  • If summer and fall crop:

14,300-23,300 lb/a

  • Substantial summer crop
mkt yields in lb ft lb a 8 between rows
Mkt. Yields in lb/ft (lb/a)8’ between rows

Summer Fall Total

2001 (4-6 fc/ft)

Aut. Britten ---- 2.5 (13,600) 2.5 (13,600)

Heritage 0.8 (4,200) 3.5 (19,100) 4.3 (23,300)

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2002 (? fc/ft)

Aut. Britten 2.4 (13,100) 0.6 (3,300) 3.0 (16,400)

Heritage 2.1 (11,400) 1.6 (8,700) 3.7 (20,100)

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2003 (5 fc/ft)

Aut. Britten 1.6 (8,800) 1.0 (5,500) 2.6 (14,300)

Heritage 0.7 (3,800) 2.0 (10,800) 2.7 (14,600)

slide33
2007
  • New planting comparing ‘Jewel’ summer-bearing black raspberry, PT9301.A.3 primocane-bearing black raspberry (‘Explorer’)
raspberry results
Raspberry Results
  • High yields
  • Long shelf-life (11 days)
  • Large fruit (2.8 g for ‘Heritage’)
  • Earlier (and later) production
  • Balance between summer and fall crop can be an issue
slide35
No fungicides needed
  • “Greenhouse” pests can be a problem
  • Potential for deficiencies, esp. potassium
why were raspberry yields so much higher
Why were raspberry yields so much higher?
  • At least part of the answer
    • Longer growing season?? Would seem logical…

For PA, increased the growing season by at least 2 months

    • Less wind stress (more hours of photosynthesis)??
    • More leaves doing more photosynthesis (more light to lower leaves)??
    • Something else?
blackberries 2000 05
Blackberries: 2000-05
  • Historically, yields at this site were 0, zip, zilch in 1994 – 2000 with ‘Chester’, ‘Choctaw’, ‘Shawnee’, ‘Arapaho’, ‘Navaho’
  • Explained as due to cold winter temps or fluctuating spring temps
blackberry yield lb a
Blackberry Yield (lb/a)

Low temp (F)

2001 19,602 -2

2002 28,859 9

2003 33,907 -2

2004 23,359 -11

2005 – dug plants out (crown

borers)

what works
What works?
  • At Rock Springs…
culture
Culture
  • Used methods similar to field production with changes necessitated or made possible by tunnels
    • Drip irrigation
    • Venting
    • Earlier planting
    • Longer harvest season
    • Usually (not always) primocane-bearers
    • Changes in pest complexes
site selection
Site Selection
  • Must be well-drained
  • >2% organic matter good, >5% preferred
  • Slope – minimal OK if you can step up or down slope
fertility
Fertility
  • pH: 6.0-6.5
  • Before planting, test soil
  • Amend according to soil test results with lime, and compost or fertilizer
  • Use tissue-testing yearly and adjust fertilizer (or compost) amounts based on test results
  • Baseline of 60 lb N acre as

20-20-20, 20-10-20, etc. - not just nitrogen

cultivars
Cultivars
  • Red raspberries: usually primocane-bearers
    • Autumn Britten, Josephine
      • Large berries, uniform fruit size
    • Any cultivar that works well on your farm
  • Black raspberries? – short harvest season
planting
Planting
  • As early in spring as possible
    • If tunnel up, could be late winter
  • If using tissue-cultured plants, have row covers ready
  • Raised beds are best
  • 1.5’ to 2’ between plants
  • Minimum 7-8’ between rows
landscape fabric
Landscape Fabric?
  • For red raspberries, just have between rows
trickle irrigation
Trickle Irrigation
  • 1x/week during early spring and late fall, increasing to 3x/week during summer
  • About 2 hours each time if 0.45gal/100’/min trickle tape - unless uncovered (make get rain)
trellis
Trellis
  • Simple supported hedgerow or narrow “V” works well
venting
Venting
  • Raspberries grow well in cool temps.
    • Goal is to keep temperature around 70-80 degrees
  • Keeping rain off of the blossoms and fruit = major decrease in disease incidence = major decrease in fungicide use
  • Wind makes plants shorter = lower yields; gentle breezes are good
pruning
Pruning
  • For primocane-bearers, can prune to ground in late winter
  • Or prune as for summer-bearers to get a summer crop, but may need to adjust canes/linear foot of row (start with 3-4)
    • Summer canes if too thick can compete with fall production
harvest
Harvest
  • Primocane-bearers - can delay harvest by 2-3 weeks if “soft-tipped” when 30 in. tall
    • Staggers harvest with same cultivar
  • Can harvest from June through Nov. with mix of varieties, tipping
    • Pick 3x/week in summer, 2x/week in fall
  • Berry size larger than in field
diseases
Diseases
  • Much reduced
  • Very little gray mold
  • Longer shelf-life
insects
Insects
  • Greenhouse pests
    • Spider mites
    • Whiteflies
    • Aphids
    • Thrips
  • Fewer Japanese beetles if covered
weeds
Weeds
  • Not much of a problem with landscape fabric
  • If no landscape fabric, and always covered during rain, weeds only where moist (in rows, around edges)
  • Otherwise, could be problem
    • Herbicide incorporation? Trickle tape?
pesticides
Pesticides?
  • Tunnels make organic production easier
    • Be aware - viruses may move in via insects
  • When using pesticides, official EPA interpretation is that as long as the label doesn’t restrict the use from protected culture, it can be used
what would i have done differently
What Would I Have Done Differently?
  • Would have controlled insects better
  • Would have released predatory mites sooner
    • We use a Neoseiulus mix (N. fallacis and N. californicus)
  • Would have applied more potassium from the beginning
why aren t tunnels used more for raspberries
Why aren’t tunnels used more for raspberries?
  • Labor:
    • High labor cost
    • Shortage of labor
  • Lower per area value than some other crops
  • Constantly occupy the tunnel
  • Tomatoes still the big winner in economic analyses
cost acre
Cost/Acre
  • $30,000 for multi-bay tunnel
  • $6,500 for plants, trickle tape, land preparation, etc.
  • So, $36,500 total to start
  • Then, about $1800/year operating costs exclusive of items that vary with yield
yields
Yields
  • First year, small crop (up to 5000 lb/acre)
  • Yields are typically 2-3 times that of field production
  • In full production second year
  • Should be able to get 10,000 lb/acre at that point
  • Gradual decrease yr 5 and later
economics
Economics
  • 1 lb = 3 half-pints (lg. berries)
  • First year, you should be able to pay off $5000-$8000 on the tunnel
  • Or not… (if you eat ‘em all)
  • Tunnel cost not amortized so that payback time is apparent
mature planting yr 2 and later if harvest cost is 0 50 half pt
Mature planting(Yr 2 and later)If harvest cost is $0.50/half pt

Price/half-pt Yield lb/a Profit/a*

$1.50 7000 $14,700

$2.00 7000 $25,200

$2.50 7000 $35,700

$3.00 7000 $46,200

*not including structure and plastic replacement cost

harvest cost 1 00 half pt
Harvest cost: $1.00/half pt

Price/half-pt Yield lb/a Profit/a*

$1.50 7000 $4,200

$2.00 7000 $14,700

$2.50 7000 $25,200

$3.00 7000 $35,700

*not including structure and plastic replacement cost

harvest cost 1 00 half pt1
Harvest cost: $1.00/half pt

Price/half-pt Yield lb/a Profit/a*

$1.50 10,000 $6,800

$2.00 10,000 $21,800

$2.50 10,000 $36,800

$3.00 10,000 $51,800

*not including structure and plastic replacement cost

harvest cost 0 50 half pt
Harvest cost: $0.50/half pt

Price/half-pt Yield lb/a Profit/a*

$1.50 10,000 $21,800

$2.00 10,000 $36,800

$2.50 10,000 $51,800

$3.00 10,000 $66,800

*not including structure and plastic replacement cost

thanks to
Thanks to:
  • Mike Orzolek and Bill Lamont
  • Elsa Sánchez
  • Bruce Dye, Catie Rasmussen, Lisa White, Eric Burkhart, numerous others
  • Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture
  • And many other sponsors
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