Activity 16

Physical control of pests and increasing the harvesting season via an innovative high tunnel adapted to organic berry farming, rain shelter and insect proof nets

Experimental set-up to compare 4 types of covering on raspberries (gray, control, pink and light) grown in pots at Fraises de l'Île d'Orléans, Saint-Laurent, Île d'Orlans, QC.  

Project Introduction

Organic field berry production suffers from a lack of organic solutions against major pests and diseases (e.g. mildew, gray mold, late leaf rust, anthracnose, spotted wing drosophila, strawberry bud weevil, mites). In addition, crops are exposed to extreme climate events that can compromise productivity and berry quality. High tunnels are used extensively worldwide because extended growing seasons have a great economic potential for farmers. However, the main limiting factor lies in the control of insects such as thrips, spider mites, spotted wing drosophila, strawberry bud weevil, raspberry cane borer, tarnished plant bug, and aphids. Biological control agents are not sufficiently effective against insect pests under Quebec and Canadian conditions. Better climate control under early spring/late fall (warmer indoor temperature) and summer (better ventilation) conditions and an increased/extended harvesting period would also enhance berry production. For on-season berry harvesting, a lightweight structure that allows combining a rain shelter and insect exclusion nets could also be a sustainable solution for organic producers.

Thus, the objectives of this research activity are to improve crop productivity, fruit quality, and profitability of Canadian organic berry farms by:

1) Designing, studying and validating a new generation of high tunnels for organic ever-bearing raspberry. Tunnels will feature an automatic retractable roof, thermal and long-life covering materials and insect external barrier. The harvesting season will be extended by two months compared with commercially existing high tunnels, and insect pest populations will be minimized. Environmental footprint and profitability will be assessed, as well as the climatic and agronomic performance of the high tunnels.

2) Investigating the efficacy and profitability of rain shelters and insect-proof nets supported by lightweight structures in organic summer- and fall-bearing raspberry production.

Ultimately, Canadian growers will be provided with new tools, enabling them to produce more, better quality berries, thus reducing US imports. To fulfil these objectives, four experiments will be conducted during 4 growing seasons at the commercial and R&D organization levels with ever-bearing and summer-bearing raspberry cultivars.

This project falls within the research priorities of the Canadian organic sector for new production systems, shelter crops, tunnels / greenhouses, berries, and the nutritional and nutraceutical value of fruits. This activity will reduce risks related to pest issues, increase yield and berry quality due to lower pest damage, and consequently will contribute to improve farm profitability and competitiveness. Production of local and hyper-fresh berries will also contribute to fulfill consumer demand for organic and locally grown fruits. Although this study will be conducted with raspberry, new technologies and know-how developed during this project will be applicable to any organic horticulture crops.

Final Report Summary

Coming soon!


Activity Researchers

Name   Organization/Location
Martine Dorais (Activity Leader) Université Laval, Dept. Phytologie
Valérie Fournier Université Laval, Dept. Phytologie
James Evaes Université Laval, Dept. of management
André Gosselin FIO
Annie Van Sterthem FIO
Louis Gauthier FIO
Yves Dubé

Les Industries Harnois, Vice -President

Greenhouse Division

Yanick Harnois Les Industries Harnois, Vice president, co-owner
Caroline Prévost Centre de recherche agroalimentaire de Mirabel (CRAM), director
Liette Lambert MAPAQ
Camille O’Byrne CETAB, Victoriaville
Geneviève Legault CETAB, Victoriaville
François Gendreau Martineau CETAB, Victoriaville
Annabelle Firlej IRDA-plateforme Bio, Mont-Saint-Bruno
Guy-Anne Landry MAPAQ
Field technician CETAB+, Victoriaville, QC
Research professional IRDA Mont-Saint-Bruno