The Pilgrims first named this unique fruit “Craneberry” for its small, pink blossoms that appear in the spring and resembles the head and the bill of a Sandhill Crane. The Cranberry joins the Blueberry and Concord Grape as North America’s Native fruits. Native Americans first discovered this wild berry and used it for food, fabric dye, and a healing agent. European settlers adopted the uses for the fruit and the berry become a valuable bartering item.
By 1871, the first association of cranberry growers in the United States had formed, and now, U.S. farmers harvest approximately 40,000 acres of cranberries each year. Captain Henry Hall -Dennis, Massachusetts, discovered that the wild cranberries in his bogs grew better when sand blew over them. He transplanted the vines, fencing them in, and spread sand by hand. Cultivation of the cranberry began shortly after that.
Cranberries do not grow in water but on vines in impermeable beds, layered with sand, peat, gravel, and clay. The growing season begins in April and last through November. These beds are commonly known as “bogs” and were formed by glacier deposits.
Cranberries are grown through out the northern part of the United States producing 679.6 million pounds of cranberries in 2010, valued at $456 million. Wisconsin farmers raise more than half of the nation’s cranberries followed by Massachusetts. The cranberry industry provides nearly $300 million annually to Wisconsin’s economy.
An Educational Video from Canada-Cranberries going to Ocean Spray Juice Company:
- There are approximately 333 cranberries in 1 pound, 3,333 cranberries in 1 gallon of juice, and 33,333 cranberries in a 100 pound barrel.
- About 95% of cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries. The remaining 5% are sold fresh to consumers.
- The average number of cranberries used per can of sauce is 200.
- Some cranberry beds are over 100 years old and still producing.
- Cranberries are almost 90% water.
- On average, every acre of cranberry bog is supported by 4 to 10 acres of wetlands, woodlands and uplands. This area offers refuge to a rich variety of wildlife including the bald eagle, osprey, great blue heron, fox, deer and wild turkey.
- Wisconsin cranberry growers annually harvest enough cranberries to supply every man, woman and child in the world with 26 cranberries.