Causes and effects of poor drainage in cranberry farms

C.D. Kennedy, P. Jeranyama, C.J. DeMoranville
Soils that support cranberry production often cap geologic deposits of organic sediment, such as peat. However, inadequate drainage of organic soils may diminish plant productivity and enhance fruit rot. In this study, we combined a replicated field trial and a field demonstration to evaluate the causes and effects of poor drainage in a Massachusetts cranberry farm called “Poor Farm Bog”. Measurements of soil water tension (SWT), fruit yield and rot, and ground penetrating radar were conducted within two fields: PF1, which had tile drainage at two depths (20 and 30 cm), and PF7, which had tile drainage at one depth (30 cm). In PF1, values of SWT (-1.4 to -1.0 kPa), crop yield (15.1 to 17.7 Mg ha-1), and fruit rot (13 to 24%) did not vary as a function tile drain depth. By comparison, crop yield was twice as high in PF7 (40.6 Mg ha-1) and was related to lower values of SWT (-3.2 kPa). Increased crop yield could be related to physiological effects (i.e., enhanced root-zone oxygen) or to decreased fruit rot (4%) associated with enhanced drainage. The lower values of SWT were not related to differences in subsurface geology, with most of the farm constructed on mineral deposits of silt. Instead, a strong elevation gradient of 0.4%, caused by a 3-m difference in surface elevation between sites PF1 and PF7, probably facilitated enhanced subsurface drainage in PF7. These results illustrate the significance of landscape features on the relationship between subsurface drainage and crop production in cranberry farms.
Kennedy, C.D., Jeranyama, P. and DeMoranville, C.J. (2017). Causes and effects of poor drainage in cranberry farms. Acta Hortic. 1180, 445-452
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1180.62
drainage, irrigation, soil water tension, Vaccinium macrocarpon, 'Stevens'

Acta Horticulturae