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Brent L. Black, Tiffany Maughan, Christina Nolasco and Blake Christensen

Winter injury to raspberry floricanes commonly limits productivity in cold climates. Primocane-fruiting raspberries avoid winter injury by fruiting on first year canes, but fruit production in the high-elevation valleys of the Intermountain West is later than needed for local markets, and may be limited by early fall freezes. High tunnels were used for early spring heat to advance primocane growth and the fruiting season of two primocane-fruiting red raspberry cultivars. Tunnels were covered with plastic in March and April. Then, they were covered with shade cloth during fruit ripening. Tunnel-covered plots were compared with field plantings for primocane growth rate, fruiting season, yield, and fruit quality over two seasons. High tunnels increased cane growth rate, with the harvest season advanced by 18 to 26 days depending on season and cultivar, but they did not consistently affect the total season yield or fruit size. Low-cost two-season tunnels used in conjunction with early-season primocane-fruiting raspberries may provide a viable method for small acreage producers in harsh climates to reliably supply high-value seasonal raspberry markets.

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Tiffany L. Maughan, Kynda R. Curtis, Brent L. Black and Daniel T. Drost

Strawberry production in the U.S. Intermountain West is limited by harsh climatic conditions and competition from domestic producers and imports. Using season extension methods to combat climatic conditions may be effective but generally increases production costs. This study evaluates the economic returns to implementing high tunnels, low tunnels, and in-ground supplemental heating to strawberry production (Seascape and Chandler cultivars) in northern Utah. The high tunnel provided a net return of $1,943.57 or $15,548.56 per hectare assuming eight high tunnels per hectare. The addition of low tunnels within the high tunnel led to a positive increase in net returns for ‘Seascape’ but not for ‘Chandler’ production. Supplemental in-ground heating increased net returns by up to 50% for both cultivars, primarily as a result of higher pre-season yield and market pricing. Study results find that season extension technologies can successfully increase net returns to strawberry production through early and increased yields, when strawberries are sold primarily through local direct markets.