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Comparison of Alternate- and Every-Year Production in Summer-Bearing Red Raspberry

Collaborating investigators: Suzette Galinato and Chris Benedict

Grower collaborator: Maberry Packing, LLC

Increasing costs and decreasing availability of labor are compromising the economic viability of commercial red raspberry production in western Washington. The grower community needs alternative production systems that maximize efficiency, minimize labor needs, maintain productivity, and are economically viable. This project addresses that need by evaluating the economic viability of alternate-year (AY) production relative to traditional every-year (EY) production systems.

The overall objective of this project is to evaluate the economic viability of alternative production systems that have the potential to reduce costs of production and improve on-farm profitability through enhanced production efficiencies.

Specific sub-objectives are:

1) Evaluate differences in plant productivity and yield between AY and EY production systems; and

2) Complete a benefit-cost analysis to assess the on-farm net benefits of AY production relative to traditional EY production systems (to be completed at the end of the project in 2020).

Preliminary Results:
This experiment is in its fourth year and will conclude in 2020. To date, we have observed both year, treatment, and year x treatment effects. Yield per row is greater for the EY treatment (control) relative to the experimental AY treatment. Yield was not determined in the AY treatment in 2018, as it was an “off” year for this treatment. However, average yield per row, primocane number per hill, and primocane height across the four years of the study are 2,632 lbs/row, 3 canes/hill, and 5 inches greater in the EY treatment relative to the AY treatment, respectively. This reduction in productivity in the AY treatment may be due to winter injury this treatment experienced in 2016/2017 and the plants appear to be recovering. It remains to be determined whether the pruning and training costs savings in the AY treatment will compensate for its reduced production.

In 2018, primocane height in the AY treatment was greater than the EY treatment (318 versus 291 inches, respectively). Yield in 2019 may subsequently be greater in the AY treatment due to greater primocane height. Node number was also greater in the AY treatment (65 versus 48 nodes per primocane), while internode length was greater in the EY treatment (2.4 versus 2 inches). No differences were detected in priomcane number per hill in 2018.

Read the 2018 Progress Report: WRRC AY Progress Report 2018