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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)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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)


High tunnel bramble production
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


High tunnel bramble production

  • 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