WHAT ARE CRANBERRIES?
A berry that is round and bright red when ripe. It is 0.3 to
2.5cm in diameter.
WHERE ARE CRANBERRIES PRODUCED IN BC?
Cranberries were grown on the Queen Charlotte Islands in the
1920s. Now almost all the cranberry bogs are in the Lower Fraser
Valley in Richmond, Pitt Meadows and Fort Langley. There are also a
few bogs on Vancouver Island.
HOW MANY CRANBERRIES DO WE PRODUCE?
Almost all, 95%, of BC's cranberries are grown for the processing
market. The rest are sold as fresh berries. Cranberries is BC's
largest berry crop -- by both volume and value. BC produces about 17
million kilograms of cranberries which is valued at $25 million.
These berries are grown by 50 family farm operations on 1150
HOW ARE CRANBERRIES PRODUCED?
Cranberry growth and survival depends on a rare and fragile
combination of soils and geology, the right climate and a dedicated
grower. Cranberries are grown on low-lying vines in bogs which are a
mixture of sand and peat soil. These bogs must have an ample water
supply for irrigation and flooding.
To start a cranberry bog growers must first remove wild growth
from the bog, then level the land and plant vines. Cranberries vines
are started from vine cuttings. These are 10 to 25 cm long pieces of
vine which are placed directly into the ground. It takes 2 to 3
years before a cranberry vine will bear fruit and with good
management will be full-bearing in 5 to 6 years. Cranberries require
very little pruning. Fertilization is done carefully to promote the
growth of berry production while minimizing vine growth. A high
level of bee activity is important to pollinate a crop. Hives should
be placed in the planting when 10 to 20% of the blooms are out. It
is important not to spray the crop at this time as honeybees can be
harmed by insecticides.
Cranberries grow in clusters on the vine. When it is time to
harvest the cranberries most growers flood the fields. A beater is
run over the vines to shake the berries loose. The berries, which
float, have a soft landing in the water. The berries are corralled
with wooden or inflatable booms. They are then pumped and loaded
onto trucks. The flood water is recycled in the cranberry growth
system passing from bog to bog and grower to grower through a series
of canals, flume gates and holding ponds. Berries that are to be
used in the fresh market are harvested dry. A mechanical harvester
'combs' the berries off the vines.
WHAT DO CRANBERRIES LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?
Cranberries are used for cranberry sauce, cranberry juice and
cranberry jelly. They are used for baking in products such as
cranberry muffins or bread. Cranberries are an excellent source of
vitamin C. One glass of cranberry juice cocktail supplies the total
daily value of vitamin C.
Cranberries are a perennial crop. It is not unusual to find a 75
to 100 year old bog in production.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE CRANBERRIES LEAVE THE FARM?
Cranberries are a regulated crop in BC. Cranberry growers have
two alternatives for selling their berries, Ocean Spray or Lucerne.
Lucerne deals with the 4 to 5 growers that are not affiliated with
Ocean Spray. Ocean Spray is a farmer-owned co-operative, located
throughout cranberry growing areas in Canada and the U.S. In BC,
Ocean Spray has a receiving station where berries are cleaned. From
here they are sent to U.S. freezers to await processing in the U.S.
Ocean Spray, a Massachusetts based company, markets nearly all the
cranberries grown in North America.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO CRANBERRY PRODUCERS FACE?
One challenge that growers face is frost damage to the vines.
Frost in bogs can occur as late as June. A producer can lose up to
50% of a crop in as little as two hours from frost damage. To
protect their crops, growers spray them with water as the
temperature nears freezing. When water freezes it produces heat
which warms the plants enough to protect them from freezing
temperatures. Computerized heat sensors can be used to inform
farmers when the temperature drops near freezing.
A second challenge is ensuring pollination of the flowers.
Cranberry flowers produce little nectar so bee colonies must be
placed on the edge of cranberry bogs to ensure pollination. There
has been a recent reduction in the availability of bees as a result
of significant colony losses from mites, a new and deadly pest of
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING CRANBERRIES?
- Workers to maintain crops and harvest the field
- Apiarist to supply the bees
- Extension workers
- Marketing/promotion people
- Pest management services
- Pesticide and fertilizer salespeople
½ cup cranberries
||Vitamin C 10%
Interesting Fact About Cranberries:
BC grows about 95% of the cranberries grown in Canada.
BC is the world's third largest producer of cranberries after
Massachusetts and Wisconsin.
- Contacts and other resources:
- BCMAL -
- BC Cranberry Growers' Association