The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 27, 2000


A cranberry grower talks about his crop

Farmer Peter Duffy was on hand at the Cranberry Harvest Tour, at the Carlisle Cranberry Bog on Saturday, October 14 to talk about raising and harvesting cranberries in Carlisle. Peter is a member of the team that helps his brother Mark farm the bog, as well as the land at Great Brook Farm State Park. The Mosquito asked him to share some of his answers to questions that were asked concerning the locally grown berries.

Are cranberries always under water?

No, cranberries are only under water at harvest time and in the very cold part of the winter.

How do you harvest the cranberries?

We do a very small amount with a walk-behind machine. We call this "dry-harvesting" and we sell these berries locally. The rest are "wet-harvested." That is where we flood up the bog and cranberries float on the vine. A machine is driven through the water, knocking the berries free from the vine. They are then corralled and brought to a conveyor where the leaves and stems are washed away and the berries are loaded into a truck.

Do you sell to Ocean Spray?

No, we sell our berries to an independent broker in South Carver, Massachusetts.

What are the cranberries used for?

These cranberries will go into products such as juices, jams, jellies and anything using processed cranberries. Only "dryharvest" berries go into the fresh fruit that you buy in the store.

What are you doing with the area by the side of the road?

That area is being renovated.

Why don't you restore the bog all at once?

There are 20 acres and it costs $30,000 to re-do an acre of cranberry bog. That's a lot of money all at once.

How often do you have to replant the cranberries?

With proper maintenance, cranberry vines will last for over 100 years.

How often do you harvest?

We harvest once a year, around October 15, which is when our variety of cranberry is ready.

Do you just work the bogs in the fall?

Raising cranberries requires year-round work, such as fertilizing, weeding, bog maintenance and applying sand in the winter. Sand is applied to the surface of ice in winter-time to bury the leaves, twigs and to promote vine growth.

Why is the media focusing on an over-supply of cranberries?

A lot of growers in Wisconsin and Canada, as well as Massachusetts, have been building new bogs and renovating old bogs with new, higher-producing varieties. Wisconsin now produces almost twice as much per acre as Massachusetts. Meanwhile, consumption has not increased much.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito