Identifying Profitable Vegetable and Small Fruit Varieties for Maine Farmers – 2016

Maine has a large and diverse group of vegetable and berry growers that farm in excess of 11,000 acres and are responsible for over 20 million dollars in annual gross revenue. Surveys in 1999 (Handley) and 2001, 2007 (Hutton) indicated that the members of the Maine Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers Association rank varietal evaluation as one of their highest research priorities. In the research priority request submitted by the Association to the Agricultural Council of Maine in 2012, variety testing was ranked as the number one priority.

During the 2016 growing season, strawberries, onions, bell peppers, butternut squash, table beet, and sweet corn will be evaluated in replicated trials to determine:

    1. Suitability for Maine climate (plant establishment, days to maturity, cold tolerance)
    2. Potential commercial value (yield, quality, unique characteristics)
    3. Pest tolerance (insect, disease resistance)

Data from these trials will establish a resource of scientifically-based, reliable information regarding variety performance under Maine growing conditions upon which farmers can base variety purchasing decisions. Improved variety decisions will lead to improved crop success, including higher yields, improved crop quality, reduced pest pressure, and/or expanded market opportunities.

Investigators: Mark Hutton, David Handley