Cranberry bog management in challenging economic times...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hi folks,

I have been chatting with a number of growers, researchers and extension folks in the region this spring and it seems the number one concern on peoples mind right now is price!  As you are well aware, even when the price is low, input costs can remain high...  I have been asked on a couple of occasions in recent months what the 'minimum' inputs should be if you are not planning to harvest on some beds but wish to maintain them for when the price starts to turn around.  While I am in no way recommending this - it is entirely your decision on how best to weather this current price issue - I thought it might be nice to get some information out there for people who are weighing their options. 

I have been asked if mowing or flooding to remove the bloom is a viable option to abort the crop entirely for the 2014 season.   I had a conversation with Dr. Hilary Sandler at the UMass Cranberry Station and her advice on this is as follows:

We have used bloom time floods with good success and no apparent injury to the vines.  Hold a short (2-4 day) flood during peak bloom (late June early July?).  This duration works well for new plantings; Use 4-7 days on established beds.  If doing this, do not protect for frost in the spring unless you expect a black frost (low dew point, 5 degree below tolerance, rapid T drop).  Unopened flower pods are tolerant of the flood; wait until most flowers have opened (>80%).  Flood should be deep.   Holding Late Water in the spring helps to synchronize bloom so growers may want to consider this for getting a good bloom kill with flooding in June-July.

You can also consider mowing the vines to remove the crop for this year.  The vines respond well with regrowth and would be good for next year.

And if there's any comfort in knowing we are not alone - apparently others in the northeastern region are having the same conversations...  Click on the link below to see a factsheet that was put together by the U Mass Cranberry Station outlining options on how growers might best manage their bogs in these challenging economic times. 


Growers should note that this factsheet and the above advice was developed for growers in Massachusetts, so timings/recommendations might be slightly different for growers here in the Maritimes.  Also if you have a contract with a handler, you should be discussing options with them before making any decisions on your crop for this year.   

Finally even though prices may not be as hoped right now, it may be time to consider renovating some beds with a history of poor production in hopes of being 'ready' when the price starts to rebound!   There are a number of new varieties now commercially available that you may be interested in having a look at!  

As always if you have any questions or concerns, please get in contact with me! 

And if you haven't already, please join our online facebook group.  While logged into Facebook, search:  Nova Scotia Cranberry Growers Association  and click the 'ask to join group' button!  It's a great place for us to connect and share information in real time throughout the growing season!