Over the past two years, research has been gearing up at the Wisconsin Cranberry Research Station. And more is yet to come. Here are some quick snapshots of station-based projects, which are supported by funding from the Wisconsin Cranberry Board, the Cranberry Institute, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- New cultivars. The station hosts the largest collection of cranberry genotypes ever assembled in Wisconsin — over 3,000 genetically unique plants created through conventional plant breeding. The plants are being evaluated for fruit quality, yield, and other characteristics, with the goal of developing new and improved cultivars for growers.
- Better herbicides. New compounds are being evaluated at the station to provide options for slowing the development of resistance to widely used herbicides and for filling gaps in cranberry weed control for problematic species. The majority of the evaluated products are more environmentally friendly than their predecessors.
- Fruit rot prevention. To minimize crop losses due to fruit rot, a common disease of cranberries, researchers are exploring the environmental sources of fruit rot fungi as well as assessing fungicides to control the pathogen. Findings will help improve fungicide management strategies.
- Stress-resistant genes. By identifying the specific genes and proteins involved in cranberry’s ability to resist freezing stress damage, this project will yield information to help plant breeders develop more cold-hardy varieties.
- Fruit firmness. Over the past decade, the cranberry market has shifted from mostly juice production to more products with higher value, such as sweetened dried cranberry. The new products require higher fruit quality parameters, including firmness. This study explores the ability of calcium applications to boost fruit firmness.
- Pest control. Cranberries get nibbled on by a variety of insects, including leafhoppers and flea beetles. An evaluation of insecticides seeks new and better approaches to help growers keep these pests at bay.
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This article was posted in Changing Climate, Food Systems, Healthy Ecosystems and tagged cranberries, Wisconsin Cranberry Research Station.