Cranberry Cultivation in Various States

Cranberry Cultivation in Various States
The cultivation of cranberries was a gradual process that evolved at different times in different states.

Cranberry Cultivation in Massachusetts

Cranberries were first cultivated in Cape Cod. One of the early attempts was by Henry Hall around 1816 on Cape Cod. By 1832, he was harvesting about seventy bushels of fruits per acre. He transplanted cranberry plants to a swamp and covered the area with sand.

The earliest growers were typically retired seamen who sold shares to investors in the bogs. Called 64th interests, this method of bog ownership was established in Cane Cod where a bog might have thirty to forty owners/investors.

During the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant ordered that cranberry sauce be served to the troops in 1864 at Petersburg for Thanksgiving.
The sauce was first canned commercially on Cape Cod in 1912.

By 2000, Cape Cod was producing 70% of the nation’s cranberries.

Cranberries in Wisconsin

In the early European settlements of Wisconsin, the colonists bought the berries that had been harvested by Native Americans. The fruits were especially popular in Chicago and the Midwest. The early colonists also began to harvest the berries. These were put on rafts, which traveled along the Mississippi selling the fruits

Cranberries were first grown in Berlin, Wisconsin in 1853 by Mr. Pfeffer. The state had a thriving cranberry industry by the 1860s.

By the early 1850s the European colonists had begun improving the marshes where the berries grew in order to encourage more local production since there was a great demand for the fruits. Within a decade or so around a thousand acres of the improved marshes had been established in various areas of the state.

Initially, the growers mostly used dikes and ditches to control the water into the bogs and use the water as protection for the fruits during harvest times. They also found other ways to manage the native plantings to increase the yields.

Some of the problems these early growers in Wisconsin encountered were fires and insects. In the early days, only a few hundred barrels of the wild fruits were harvested. During the 1900s with improved cultivation methods and mechanization over 800,000 barrels were harvested from over seven thousand acres.

By 2006, the state of Wisconsin was producing 55% of the country’s cranberries.

Cranberry Cultivation in New Jersey

The successful cultivation of cranberries on Cape Cod encouraged settlers in New Jersey to begin growing the plants around 1835.

In the state, the first recorded account of cultivation was in 1840 by John Webb. He lived in Ocean County near Cassville. Webb sold the fruits for $50 per barrel. These were used on whaling ships. The New Jersey Cranberry Association was formed in 1873.

In 1879, one New Jersey grower, Mr. Bishop reported he was harvesting over 400 bushels per acre. At the time, a few growers sometimes reported their bogs produced 700 to 1000 bushels per acre. However, this was considered unusual.

The state of New Jersey harvested 184,000 barrels in 1915, which was reported to be the most ever. In 1920, the state produced 30% of the total national production of the fruits.

Eventually, cranberry production in New Jersey declined for a number of reasons. The problems included unfavorable economic conditions, disease and pests, along with reduced yield. As a result, many New Jersey growers abandoned bogs in the 1930s and 1940s. The yields made the crop no longer competitive.

In 2006, the state of New Jersey produced around 6% of the nation’s cranberry fruits.

Cranberry Cultivation in Oregon and Washington

The first plantings of cranberries in the Northwest were in Oregon around 1885 by Charles Dexter McFarlin. He used plants from Cape Cod. Originally from Cape Cod, McFarlin later developed special cranberry varieties for the Northwest.

As of 2006, the state of Oregon produced 8% of the nation’s cranberries.
Washington produced around 3%.


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