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38


COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • APRIL 2018


Sanding and cranberry plant health Study finds stressed bogs benefit from sand application


by RONDA PAYNE RICHMOND – The annual


Cranberry Congress co-hosted by the BC Cranberry Marketing Commission and the BC Cranberry Growers’ Association offered a diverse wealth of information from the health of the marketplace to the health of bogs. It took place in Richmond in February. Agricultural economics consultant Bill Franz said despite challenges, there is a future for cranberry growers. This positive outlook prepared growers and industry experts for more strategic topics later in the day.


Among those topics was a


presentation on the practice of sanding bogs by Rebecca Harbut of Kwantlen


Polytechnic University’s Institute for Sustainable Food Systems. Harbut noted growing cranberries in BC shouldn't be based on templates from other cranberry-growing regions. BC's climate is unique and growing practices here need to acknowledge that and be well-researched. “The reality is, we have a


very different bog here than in other regions,” she says. “Some of the management practices we employ should reflect that.”


A case in point is when


Harbut returned to BC after spending time in Ontario and the US. One of the first things she was asked by growers was whether to sand or not. “But it’s not the only question,” she stresses. Two sanding trials began in


2016 in two fields. One was a healthy field with a dense canopy, upright growth and signs of overgrowth. The second was a stressed field with visible patches in the canopy and lower upright density.


The trials included plots with no sand, a half inch of sand and one inch of sand. Each option was replicated eight times in each field and plant growth characteristics (upright density, canopy depth, root health estimate and yield estimate) were measured last year.


Root testing was done by the pull test, which is to pull up on the canopy and measure the non-rooted volume. Taku Someya, a graduate student at UBC and researcher with KPU, noted if growers can pull the canopy up by more than an inch, the plants are likely on the threshold of having poor root health.


The trial results concluded that yield and canopy depth were not significantly different based on the amount of sand applied to the beds. “When we look at yield and


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canopy depth… statistically there’s no difference,” Harbut says. “What was interesting is what we saw in the pull test.” In the pull test, the first


field showed no difference due to its existing good rooting capacity but the second field, while not showing a statistical difference, saw a growing improvement in rooting capacity that correlated to the increased amount of sand applied. Thus, the plots with one inch of applied sand had slightly more rooting capacity than the half-inch which had more than the plots with no sand. “On the more stressed bed,


BC CRANBERRY GROWERS PHOTO


sanding had impact on the number of uprights,” she notes.


The healthy field again had minimal response to the sanding when it came to upright growth, whereas the stressed bed showed an increase in growth. While the effects of sand on the healthy field were minimal, Harbut noted due to the effects it had on the stressed field, it “may help to maintain productivity and prevent the bed from becoming stressed.” She also feels the pull-test to determine root health may be a helpful tool in determining if sand application is an advisable management technique for a particular bog as sand appears to improve rooting


capacity. When comparing the


volume of sand applied to that of other regions, Harbut noted, “Our canopies are deeper, so this amount of sand is minimal compared to the canopy.”


Another trial measured the


brown canopy depth in two varieties (Mullica Queen and Demoranville) based on varying management techniques: sand, sawdust, mixture of sand and sawdust, moderate pruning, light pruning and no action. In the first year of treatment, both varieties saw the greatest reduction of brown canopy with sanding, followed by a mixture of sand and sawdust. Data on both studies will continue to be collected into 2018.


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