The cranberry, along with the blueberry and Concord grape, is one of only three native fruits grown commercially in North America.
Cranberries were first used by Native Americans who discovered the berry’s versatility as a food, fabric dye and healing agent. The name “cranberry” derives from the Pilgrim name for the fruit, “craneberry,” so called because the small, pink blossoms that appear in the spring resemble the head and bill of a sandhill crane.
Cranberries grow on low lying vines in impermeable beds layered with sand, peat, gravel and clay which were originally created by glacial deposits. Commercial bogs use a system of wetlands that provide a natural habitat for a variety of plant and animal life.
The cranberry season begins in winter when growers flood the bogs with water that freezes and insulates the vines from winter kill. As the winter snow melts and spring arrives, the bogs are drained. Shortly thereafter blossoms begin to appear.
In mid–July, petals fall from the flowers leaving tiny green nodes which, after weeks of summer sun, become red, ripe cranberries.
Cranberries are typically harvested in October. We flood the bogs with water, then use water reel harvesting machines that loosen the cranberries from the vine. With small air pockets in their center, the cranberries float to the water’s surface. We corral the berries for delivery to Ocean Spray processing plants.
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