Protective structures for berry crop production: Assessing grower needs and market potential

Project: Research project

Project Details


NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Berry crops are an important component of the agricultural economy - from large farms in the western United States, where berry crop production is concentrated to small diversified farming operations in the East. Berry crops are also in high demand, not only because they are delicious, but also because they are an excellent source of phytonutrients. While demand for berry crops is high, there are limitations on production in many areas of the country. These limitations include a short growing and/or harvest season, inclement weather conditions during harvest which result in berries with a short shelf-life, and cold winters which can limit which berry crops can be grown. Together, these factors greatly constrain production potential and market expansion in much of the country. Despite these constraints, berry crops are a very positive production segment when compared to many other agricultural commodities, and the additional potential market for locally-produced berries in populous states is substantial. Advances in high tunnel (low cost, non-heated plastic-covered structures) and other protective structure technologies offer means by which many of the production constraints can be mitigated or removed. Thus, growers across the U.S. are extremely interested in high tunnels, but many hesitate to adopt them for berry production despite the advantages. Reasons for this are unclear. This project gathers information through surveys and workshops with high tunnel berry producers, surveys consumers to determine their preferences when purchasing in-season and extended-season berry crops, and surveys intermediaries (wholesalers, distributors, brokers, and/or retailers) to determine factors involved in their decisions to purchase berries. After information is gathered and summarized, a national meeting is conducted in which stakeholders and researchers meet to plan future research and extension efforts. Information gained will help project personnel to understand the current high tunnel berry crop situation and predict the future one concerning production, economics and marketing. Additional benefits will be that future efforts will be tailored to addressing needs that can advance the berry production industry while taking consumer wants and needs into account, thus making a consistent supply of high quality nutritious berry crops more available to the consuming public.

Effective start/end date9/1/108/31/12


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: $50,000.00


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