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Permalink Penn State Researchers Explore Extending Berry Season

Penn State researchers are examining how the use of high and low tunnels and plastic coverings extend the growing season for strawberries and raspberries, and as a result, increase yields while also reducing pesticide use and improving berry quality and shelf-life. Midway through a five-year project, the researchers have found that with a combination of the right cultivars and season-extension technologies, they can extend the strawberry production season from four weeks to at least five months, and the raspberry harvest season from three-to-four weeks to four months. In testing, yield of strawberries doubled, and yields of raspberries doubled, tripled or quadrupled compared to the field, depending on production methods. In addition, the group eliminated the use of pesticides, relying totally on natural enemies for pest control, while improving the quality and shelf-life of both strawberries and raspberries. The researchers now are improving their strategies by studying the effects of various tunnel coverings infused with ultraviolet (UV) light blockers and stabilizers and infrared (IR) light blockers.

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