Growing cranberries a year-long process

Max Hetze
THINK Academy


"Time for Cranberries" author Lisl Detlefsen (from left) Wood County essay contest coordinator Lauren McCann, teacher Rochelle Grossbier, Max Hetze and Wisconsin Farm Bureau District 8 Coordinator Ashleigh Calaway.

Cranberries are small, red, tangy fruits. They can be made into a lot of different things, including sauce, dried cranberries, juice, just eaten fresh and much more. But there is a long process to making cranberries.

In the spring, cranberry harvesters have to remove the winter flood. In April, May and June, vines come out of dormancy and they can start the growing season. The bog is flooded in mid-May to practice managing insects, weeds, and disease.

A cranberry bog might need to be planted again because it’s not level, or weeds like, briar, poison ivy, or brambles have taken over the cranberry vines. If that happens, big construction equipment needs to move soil, and level the bog to prepare to plant new vines. Growers might also square off the beds to make the operations more efficient.

In April, May, and June, berries come out of dormancy letting the buds change to uprights containing fruit, and flowers. Berries have a temperature tolerance, in which the plant can take damage from frost. The temperature tolerance changes when the plant matures every week during a spring growth spurt. Cranberry farms can lose a whole two years’ income if cranberries have severe frost damage. Automated irrigation systems allow growers to automatically turn on or off irrigation pumps. Sensors are placed among the vines, to monitor temperature or other weather conditions. They can be fully controlled via the internet. These systems can save growers 9,000+ gallons of water per acre on a frost night.

Growing cranberries is a very hard and long process. Cranberry growing isn’t just in the spring. It is a process that continues through all of the seasons. It may be long, but it is definitely worth it in the end.

Max Hetze of Rudolph was the statewide winner of the Ag in the Classroom essay contest.