Joan Davenport – May 2019

It’s once again time for Pine Island’s annual visit with Dr. Joan Davenport! A former researcher for Ocean Spray, Joan works with Pine Island to provide guidance on fertilizer, water, and nutrients, as well as general integrated crop management. “At this point in the growing season, we are evaluating the plants for fruit potential and trying to develop recommendations for applications between bloom and fruit set. To do this, I look at hook, the length and color of the new upright growth, and the amount and color of old leaves, including looking for leaves from two growing seasons ago,” Joan says.

“The general philosophy for management is to focus on root development in the first year, then shoots the following year, and then beginning fruit production in year three,” Joan says. “If the beds are not well established by year three, it is best to maintain practices to minimize fruit set. The reason for this is that fruit production requires many of the plant’s resources (nutrients, water, carbohydrates) and setting a significant crop prior to plant establishment will delay the ability to get to the desired situation where the roots/shoots/fruit are in equilibrium and can sustain long term production.”

“We didn’t have too much this year that’s been different from any other year,” says manager Mike Haines. “We toured a typical representation of the different varieties and different stages of growth in both young and established bogs and made a couple of changes from the usual applications based on what we saw out there. Traditionally, we start with 10 pounds of nitrogen in early bloom, but some of our stuff was really lush and growthy, especially the Stevens we sanded this winter. So Joan recommended lowering that initial application to 5 pounds so it doesn’t grow like crazy. And at Sim Place we have some of those old bogs on that mucky ground that makes growth really lush too, so we might skip the first fertilizer application entirely on some bogs there. Everything else was pretty typical.”

“We’re just starting to see bloom in the Ben Lears,” Mike says. “Everything else is a little behind but should be catching up soon. The Crimson Queen variety usually blooms early but we took the water off late this year. There are a lot of flowers on the young beds, but we typically don’t pick those for harvest. We’ll see how things go as the season progresses!”

Joan Davenport – Summer 2018

Our team just finished another productive follow-up visit with soil scientist Dr. Joan Davenport! Joan comes to see us in the spring during the bloom period and again in the height of summer to discuss fertilizer needs for bud set. Joan looks at hook, the length and color of the new upright growth, and the amount and color of old leaves, including looking for leaves from two growing seasons ago.

Additional plant nutrition is necessary because while cranberries have adapted (and thrive) in their native sandy soil, nutrients are taken from the bog through the harvest of fruit. The three main elements usually added for nutrition are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This time of year we look for recommendations for bud set fertilizer as we have to make sure the plants have enough to maintain the fruit as it finishes sizing up before harvest, but also that the plants set buds for next year’s crop. With a perennial crop, we’re always thinking about this year and the next; all the years are related.

“At this point in the growing season, we are evaluating the plants to complete the grown season and support next year’s crop,” Joan says. “To do this, I look at the crop load, the presence and quantity of buds, the length and color of the new upright growth, and the color of last growing season’s leaves. This season’s new leaves should be green and the old (last year’s) leaves just starting to turn pale. Larger crop loads indicate higher nitrogen demand. There should be visible buds and few to no uprights actively growing, plus few to no runners present.”

“Joan’s recommendations this time are pretty consistent,” says Mike Haines. “That feels really good, because I think it means we did a good job keeping everything consistent and giving the beds what they needed through the season so that we just need to put the finishing touches on. I’m happy about that; it had looked good, so it’s good to get the confirmation from Joan.”

Joan Davenport – May 2018

If it’s May, it must be time for a visit from Dr. Joan Davenport! A former researcher for Ocean Spray, Joan works with Pine Island to provide guidance on fertilizer, water, and nutrients, as well as general integrated crop management. “At this point in the growing season, we are evaluating the plants for fruit potential and trying to develop recommendations for applications between bloom and fruit set. To do this, I look at hook, the length and color of the new upright growth, and the amount and color of old leaves, including looking for leaves from two growing seasons ago,” Joan says.

Our team had been a bit concerned about where we were in the growing season, due to all the rain we’ve been getting, but Joan’s visit has set their minds at ease. “We’re actually pretty much where we normally are right around now because while it’s been rainy, it’s been pretty warm too,” says Mike Haines. “We haven’t had a frost night since the beginning of May, and last spring our last frost night was mid-month, so it seems to have all evened out in the end. Joan always tries to time her visit right when bloom is about the start, since it’s the best time to make fertilizer decisions. Of course, we’re now at the point where if there’s a window we just fly even if conditions aren’t perfect!”

“We’re where we need to be right now, which is good,” says Matt Stiles. “This year we’re going to be experimenting a little more with the young stuff and adding more just to get the bogs filled in more quickly, so it was especially valuable to get Joan’s recommendations.”

“The general philosophy for management is to focus on root development in the first year, then shoots the following year, and then beginning fruit production in year three,” Joan says. “If the beds are not well established by year three, it is best to maintain practices to minimize fruit set. The reason for this is that fruit production requires many of the plant’s resources (nutrients, water, carbohydrates) and setting a significant crop prior to plant establishment will delay the ability to get to the desired situation where the roots/shoots/fruit are in equilibrium and can sustain long term production.”

It was also a great new experience for Mike Scullion, our new ICM team member! “It’s nice walking around with someone with [Joan’s] knowledge, because I have a lot to learn, obviously,” he says. “She outlines the present needs of the plants, but she also educates the staff, so it’s a win-win situation.” One of his biggest lessons: “She taught me how to look for nitrogen and phosphorus deficiencies with the color changes to the leaves. I’m looking forward to her next visit.”

Joan is due to come back mid-summer to check on progress and make any new recommendations necessary, and we’re looking forward to it as well!

Joan Davenport – summer 2017

Our team just finished another productive follow-up visit with soil scientist Dr. Joan Davenport! Joan comes to see us in the spring during the bloom period and again in the height of summer to discuss fertilizer needs for bud set. “At this point in the growing season, we are evaluating the plants to complete the grown season and support next year’s crop. To do this, I look at the crop load, the presence and quantity of buds, the length and color of the new upright growth, the color of last growing season’s leaves. This season’s new leaves should be green and the old (last year’s) leaves just starting to turn pale. Larger crop loads indicate higher N[itrogen] demand. There should be visible buds and few to no uprights actively growing, plus few to no runners present,” Joan says.

“In May it’s the beginning of the growing season, so she’s basically helping us make nutrition decisions for the highest demand time of year, bloom and fruit set,” says manager Mike Haines. “She’s here to help make sure we get this crop growing nice and healthy.” For this, Joan looks at hook, the length and color of the new upright growth, and the amount and color of old leaves, including looking for leaves from two growing seasons ago.

‘This time of year we’re looking at recommendations for bud set fertilizer,” Mike says. “We have to make sure the plants have enough to maintain the fruit as it finishes sizing up before harvest, but also that the plants set buds for next year’s crop. So at all times, we’re thinking about this year and the next, but that’s it goes with a perennial crop; all the years are related.” A follow-up visit is always useful for the team. “After we start to implement her recommendations, we do adjust as needed based on observation; stuff always happens that we don’t expect. At Sim Place, we sanded a lot of beds this year for the first time ever, and it’s pretty mucky soil out there. The sand seemed to really stimulate growth even more than we would have wanted in some places, so we cut back on fertilizer there. Conversely, on the home farm at Boricua, we have new plants but it’s really sandy. The water drains pretty quickly and there’s not a lot of organic matter in the soil so we added much more fertilizer than we originally planned to there.”

“It’s going to take eyes on the beds,” Joan says. “But here, there are always eyes on the beds.” And as always, our PIICM team is out doing whatever it takes to make sure our growing season gives us good results!

Joan Davenport – May 2017

Every year around this time, we get a visit from soil scientist Dr. Joan Davenport! A former researcher for Ocean Spray, Joan works with Pine Island to provide guidance on fertilizer, water, and nutrients, as well as general integrated crop management. “At this point in the growing season, we are evaluating the plants for fruit potential and trying to develop recommendations for applications between bloom and fruit set. To do this, I look at hook, the length and color of the new upright growth, and the amount and color of old leaves, including looking for leaves from two growing seasons ago,” Joan says.

“I’m still trying to learn about cranberry nutrition myself, so it’s always a good visit,” says manager Mike Haines. “We try to cover the whole farm section by section, accounting for variety, location, if a bed has been sanded this year . . .if it hasn’t been sanded for a while that will affect requirements, as well. We also look at crop size the previous year. We’ll try to cover all of those things and then get her thoughts, as well as go over our decisions that we’ve already made this season. For example, Nadine had a big crop in 2016 and we’ve already made some nitrogen applications, and Joan thought that was the right call.” Conversely, he says, it’s also good to know when she disagrees on a decision and why. “This way, we can apply her advice throughout the rest of the season.” Mike also likes seeing her take on other issues as well. “We had some frost damage so I had some questions about that,” he says. “Do we reduce the amount of fertilizer since theoretically the crop potential has decreased? Because we don’t want to put a lot of fertilizer on just for vegetative growth.”

Joan also took a look at our younger beds. “To evaluate new plantings for fertilizer needs, there are slightly different strategies depending on the age of the planting and whether the planting was made from pressed in vines or using rooted cuttings,” she says. “The general philosophy for management is to focus on root development in the first year, then shoots the following year, and then beginning fruit production in year three. If the beds are not well established by year three, it is best to maintain practices to minimize fruit set. The reason for this is that fruit production requires many of the plant’s resources (nutrients, water, carbohydrates) and setting a significant crop prior to plant establishment will delay the ability to get to the desired situation where the roots/shoots/fruit are in equilibrium and can sustain long term production. Using rooted cuttings means that while the plant must still develop a root system in the soil it is planted into, it does not need to utilize the matter stored in the leaves and wood to initiate and grow leaves – this has already occurred. Thus, when rooted cuttings are planted, there is about 1/2 of a growing season “gained”, however it still remains best for focus on roots plus runner development in years 1 & 2. This is an advantage over the use of pressed in vines, where there is a ‘cost’ to the cutting to establish the root system.”

“We’re all kind of learning the nutritional requirements for new Rutgers hybrids along with her,” Mike says. “We’ve been slowly increasing the amount of fertilizer from year to year, which makes sense since the newer varieties were bred to produce a larger crop. For example, with a bed of Early Blacks, we might put 25 lbs of nitrogen per acre, but double that for Crimson Queen.”

Overall, it was another productive visit with Joan, and we’re looking forward to seeing her again this summer!

Joan Davenport – May 2016 visit

This week, it was once again time to hear from one of our favorite visiting scientists, Dr. Joan Davenport! Joan, a former researcher for Ocean Spray, works with Pine Island Cranberry to provide guidance on fertilizer, water, and nutrients, as well as general PIICM management.

“This was an especially good visit, because there was a lot of education involved,” says manager Mike Haines. “We had a big group going out, with a mix of new and more experienced people, but everyone who was there really wanted to learn.” The team spent a day and a half with Joan walking through a variety of bogs on the property. “We looked at different varieties in different locations and looked at several factors,” Mike says. “One Stevens bed might need ten pounds of nitrogen, but we can’t assume the next bed needs the same. It depends on location, when the water comes off, is it an established bed or a young bed…all kinds of things.”

Tim Bourgeois and Matt Stiles both met Joan for the first time this year and say they really learned a lot. “Fertilizer applications and the specific requirements for cranberries are interesting to learn about,” Tim says. “The how, the what, the why. Cranberries are very different from other crops; they need less fertilizer than other crops do, and the water requirement is different, so you need a good, solid, accurate baseline for what stage they should be at by this point in the growing season. But Joan anticipated a lot of the questions I had in my head and answered as we went through everything, bog by bog.” He says it’s a work in progress: “I’m still trying to get a mental picture of what color plants should be during their normal growth stages so I can also know what problematic coloring looks like.” Matt agrees: “We seem to be on the right track with everything, and it was really informative; she showed us exactly what to look for.”

Things are a little different this year, as well. “We had to make some changes due to the cold wet spring,” says Jeremy Fenstermaker. “We also decided against doing a roughneck fertilizer application this year, so the nitrogen levels are going to be different; typically we’d start with ten pounds on the Stevens and Ben Lear beds but this year we’re going with five.” He attributes some of this to our sanding results. “You can see the difference in plant growth and vigor this year already; we’ll see how it affects insect pressure later on.”

“At this point in the growing season, we are evaluating the plants for fruit potential and trying to develop recommendations for applications between bloom and fruit set. To do this, I look at hook, the length and color of the new upright growth, and the amount and color of old leaves, including looking for leaves from two growing seasons ago,” Joan says.

Joan Davenport – July 2015 visit

We had Dr. Joan Davenport back again this week for her annual summer visit! Joan comes to see us in the spring during the bloom period and again in the height of summer to discuss fertilizer needs for bud set.

Additional nutrition is necessary because while cranberries have adapted (and thrive) in their native sandy soil, nutrients are taken from the bog through the harvest of fruit. The three main elements usually added for nutrition are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. “This late in the growing season, we are assessing the new plantings for nutritional needs but also for when to stop fertilizing, so that the plants will enter dormancy,” Joan says. “For established beds, we are evaluating the plants for how much crop they are holding and the bud potential for next year to develop recommendations for applications for the remainder of the growing season, including post-harvest and some guidance for roughneck in the spring of next year.” To do this, Joan and the PIICM team look at the amount and size of fruit, the length and color of both new and upright growth, and the amount of buds already set.

This season Joan sat down with our ICM team to discuss crop needs for fertigation, a process where plant nutrition is distributed via the irrigation system, and the extra care we’re going to need to take with our hardware and equipment, particularly with the sprinkler heads. Her recommendation for certain beds under review was to continue for another year. “One season doesn’t tell me how things will continue to respond,” she says. “Realistically, we start seeing results after a two year cycle when the same beds are being run on the same program in terms of hybrid versus strict fertigation.” She also had some recommendations for spacing.

Joan Davenport – Spring 2015 visit

If it’s springtime, it must be time for a visit from Dr. Joan Davenport! Joan, a former researcher for Ocean Spray, works with Pine Island Cranberry to provide guidance on fertilizer, water, and nutrients, as well as general PIICM management. “At this point in the growing season, we are evaluating the plants for fruit potential and trying to develop recommendations for applications between bloom and fruit set. To do this, I look at hook, the length and color of the new upright growth, and the amount and color of old leaves, including looking for leaves from two growing seasons ago,” Joan says.

“This year Joan came a week later than usual because of the cool spring; the buds were still tight when they are usually beginning to break,” says PIICM Manager Cristina Tassone. “In order for Joan to make a good recommendation, we want to at least be a little past roughneck. The timing this year was perfect. We were able to complete our roughneck fertilizer plan before she came. The growth stage was between hook and scattered bloom. We were able to see the potential crop, and she was able to make some recommendations that she would not have seen if she came a week earlier. We were also able to walk the bogs comfortably with the mild weather; we are usually very hot and watching for wilt as we walk the bogs in May with Joan!”

New Production Manager Mike Haines was pleased to see Joan. “There aren’t really textbooks about cranberry cultivation,” he says. “So it’s great to get a chance to actually walk through with Joan and get a practical education. I can learn both what kind of nutrition the plants need and also why they need it. This is the first time I’m learning a lot of this stuff, so I’m glad to have her here to answer questions. It makes me confident that before too long I’ll be able to make these decisions on my own.”

In general, Cristina says, “This spring has been different for us. We’ve had quite a few frost nights and not so many sunny and hot days to move the plants. It seems like the plants grew over two weekends. Now we are back to cooler weather and the flowers are just waiting to pop. I estimate that all of our bogs are going to look different after this weekend where we are expecting sunny days and warmer weather.”

Joan Davenport: May visit

It’s once again the time of year Pine Island gets a visit from Dr. Joan Davenport of Washington State University. Joan, a former researcher for Ocean Spray, works with Pine Island Cranberry to provide guidance on fertilizer, water, and nutrients, as well as general PIICM management. Joan comes to see us in the spring during the bloom period and again in the height of summer to discuss fertilizer needs for bud set.

A high priority for her May visit this year was discussion about changing some of our renovation processes in order to increase efficiency and eventually, increase yield. CEO Bill Haines and our PIICM team sat down with Joan to discuss some ideas. Bill’s #1 question: could Pine Island put sand on renovated beds instead of our usual process of stripping topsoil, grading the subsoil, and then re-grading the topsoil? Some of the reasons for considering this include drainage: proper drainage has been our biggest problem in the efficient establishment of renovated/new bogs. In addition, some of the soil (deep muck/peat) at Sim Place makes renovation slow, complicated, and expensive. The goal is to create a homogenous planting medium to simplify management of water and nutrition.

Joan agreed that it could work; growers in Wisconsin have had some success with this method. The idea is to put on 12 inches of sand, which covers half of the rooting depth. Sand is a uniform medium for drainage. The issue is what kind of sand to use, as there can be a problem with using mixed sand: even a small amount of silt or clay can cause a sealed surface layer. The top two inches would need to be clean coarse sand to prevent us from needing to go back and fix the problem. The big advantage here is that we won’t need to worry as much about the quality of the subsoil, as long as the top layer is good quality.

After some discussion, the team went to various locations at both Sim Place and on the home farm to look at various types of soil. This, as Joan says, was “the fun part!” The tour finished at our latest home farm renovation project at 11 Acre/Ben Haines.

Joan finished her visit with us on the following day with a walkthrough to make nutrition decisions for our established beds. As always, the amount of fertilizer to be applied is determined by variety, soil conditions, and past practices, requiring constant evaluation of current conditions, history, and trends. Nutritional needs are different for young vines as opposed to established plantings, as well. We’re glad to have such a fantastic opportunity to help us get better at what we do!

Nutrition decisions

This week we once again hosted Dr. Joan Davenport of Washington State University. Joan, a former researcher for Ocean Spray, works with Pine Island Cranberry to provide guidance on fertilizer, water, and nutrients, as well as general PIICM management. Joan comes to see us in the spring during the bloom period and again in the height of summer to discuss fertilizer needs for bud set (defined below).

Additional nutrition is necessary because while cranberries have adapted (and thrive) in their native sandy soil, nutrients are taken from the bog through the harvest of fruit. The three main elements usually added for nutrition are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. According to cranberries.org: “Cranberry plant demand for nitrogen is highest during three stages of the lifecycle critical to cranberry development–early growth, fruit set and bud set. Early growth is when the plant grows vegetatively through vining and root growth and produces a flush of new leaves. Fruit set is when the flower becomes pollinated and fruit begin to form. Soon after fruit set comes bud set when nitrogen is needed for both fruit development and production of the next year’s flower bud.”

Joan and our PIICM team visit several bogs to check growth and fruit set in order to best determine nutritional needs. They also take into account the sanding schedule, as sanding helps improve growth and yield by stimulating the development of new uprights (covering the base of the roots strengthens the root system and creates a more healthy vine) while also reducing insects (by burying insect eggs) and improving soil drainage. This lowers the need for additional plant nutrition.

“This late in the growing season, we are assessing the new plantings for nutritional needs but also for when to stop fertilizing, so that the plants will enter dormancy,” Joan says. “For established beds, we are evaluating the plants for how much crop they are holding and the bud potential for next year to develop recommendations for applications for the remainder of the growing season, including post-harvest and some guidance for roughneck in the spring of next year.” (The roughneck stage is when the stem elongates significantly and all flower buds are visible, being held tight to the stem.) To do this, Joan and the PIICM team look at the amount and size of fruit, the length and color of both new and upright growth, and the amount of buds already set.

Once Joan and the team tour the bogs, she makes specific recommendations based on their findings, such as the sand level needed in certain beds or where to adjust for deficiencies.

“It’s going to take eyes on the beds,” Joan says. “But here, there are always eyes on the beds.” And as always, our PIICM team is out doing whatever it takes to make sure our growing season gives us good results.

Sources:
1. Fertilizer Use in Cranberry Production: http://www.cranberries.org/pdf/soil_fertility.pdf
2. Workmaster, Beth Ann A., Jiwan P. Palta, and Teryl R. Roper, “Terminology for Cranberry Bud Development and Growth”, http://longbeach.wsu.edu/cranberries/documents/terminologyforcranberrybuddevelopmentandgrowth.pdf