Increasing economic and environmental sustainability of table grapes using high tunnel advanced production

M.E. Garcia, D.A. Dickey, S.D. Frey, D.T. Johnson
Economic and environmental sustainability of table grape production can be improved by advancing the harvest season to capture high-value niche markets and by reducing pesticide inputs. High tunnels (HT) have the potential to achieve both goals. The objective of this study was to investigate the performance of four table grape cultivars under HT and field conditions. The table grape cultivars (Vitis labrusca L. and Vitis vinifera L.) 'Hope', 'Faith', and 'Mars' were planted as bare root cuttings in spring 2011 in a Geneva double curtain (GDC) trellis system as a completely randomized design with three replications per cultivar and two plants per replication. Results indicate a great potential for table grape production under HT. Under HT, fruit was harvested in 2012, but vines under ambient field conditions had no fruit. In 2013, fruit was harvested from the HT planting, but not from the field due to below freezing temperatures in March and April. Yield for the red-fruited cultivars 'Faith' and 'Mars' was 43.6 and 37.3 kg plant-1, respectively. Yield for the white table grape cultivar, 'Hope' was 36.9 kg plant-1. The vines in the field had no crop due to a late spring freeze event. For comparison, in field grown vines at the Fruit Research Station from 2009 to 2011, 'Faith' averaged 15.2 kg plant-1 and 'Hope' 21.1 kg plant-1. In addition, pesticide application was reduced to three fungicide applications and two insecticide applications in HT, whereas field grown table grapes receive on average, eight fungicide applications and five insecticide applications. Our research indicates HT technology shows great promise in improving the environmental sustainability of table grapes. Higher yield levels compared to field production may contribute to economic sustainability if costs of HT production are not concomitantly higher.
Garcia, M.E., Dickey, D.A., Frey, S.D. and Johnson, D.T. (2016). Increasing economic and environmental sustainability of table grapes using high tunnel advanced production. Acta Hortic. 1115, 29-32
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1115.5
Vitis spp., sustainable agriculture, performance, 'Hope', 'Faith', 'Mars'

Acta Horticulturae