Cranberries are a fruit crop that is grown in wet, marshy areas
called bogs. They grow
best where there is a cool growing season and no extreme cold.
Cranberry farms are mostly found in the Canadian provinces of
Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia. In the
United States, they are grown in Massachusetts, New Jersey,
Wisconsin, Oregon, and Washington.
It is the largest fruit crop for Wisconsin.
The marshy bogs have peat at the bottom.
Peat is a layer that is formed when dead plants fall to the
bottom of the water and sit there year after year.
The cranberry Ďbedsí have a combination of sand and this
peat at the bottom. There
are usually banks around these cranberry beds.
There are ditches around them where the farmer can let in
water from higher holding places like reservoirs.
Planting is done in April.
Farmers use this time to replant beds that havenít been
growing as many cranberries as they should.
The farmer will mow plants in other cranberry beds and lay
the mowed cuttings on the new bed.
The cranberry vines will grow from this.
A tractor will pull a
spreader through so that the cuttings are evenly laid out.
A mechanical planter will follow the spreader and pushes the
cuttings into the ground. The
bed will be ready to harvest in about 4-5 years.
In the spring, the vines are green.
Buds will grow on the woody stems.
The buds look like small, red-green twists of shiny leaves.
These are called uprights because they grow upward.
Farmers watch out for frost that can ruin the plants.
Alarm systems tell the farmer when temperatures are too low.
The farmer will spray the bogs with a mist of water when they
think they will have frost. This mist freezes and puts off heat that
keeps the plants warm. Farmers
use their sprinkler systems for this.
During the spring and
summer, farmers mow the areas around the banks of the bogs.
They cut down anything that will shade the plants because
they wonít grow so well if they donít do this.
In June, pink and white cranberry blossoms appear.
Farmers hire beekeepers to bring in their bees to spread
pollen. The blossoms die
and green pinheads are formed. These
become the berries. For
the rest of the summer, the farmer watches for pests.
They fertilize the plants if they need it.
October, the plants have red berries and they are ready to pick.
The farmer floods the beds one at a time.
Wet harvesting is when water reels are driven through the
beds. These reels churn
up the water and knock the berries off of the vines.
The berries float on top of the water.
A boom, or a floating tube, round up the berries.
You can see a boom in the picture to the right. When
they are rounded up, the cranberries are put on a conveyor belt that
takes them to barrels.
If the farmer
chooses to dry harvest, the bogs donít get flooded.
Machines would pick the cranberries and then put them
into bags. The
cranberries are put on screens where the extra junk like twigs
and leaves stay on the screen and the berries fall through.
The cranberries are put in crates.
Bruised and banged up ones become jelly or juice.
The good ones are sold as whole berries.