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Du Bay Cranberry Company says Wisconsin’s number one fruit will thrive this year

Harvest time is here
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 5:22 PM CDT
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Junction City, Wis. (WSAW) - Du Bay Cranberry Company said this year will be a good year for the cranberry crop. For them, the harvest begins next week as the berries reach the perfect shade of red, which indicates the time for harvest.

Dave Hansen, manager of Du Bay Cranberry Company, said many people aren’t aware of how cranberries actually grow. He said the berries don’t grow in water, which is a common myth.

Hansen monitors the temperature of the marshes year-round to make sure the cranberries are properly cared for. There are eleven solar panels spread throughout the 160 acres that have probes on them. The probes send an alert to Hansen’s phone when it gets too cold for the cranberries. Then, regardless of if it’s in the middle of the night or during the day, he has to go turn the sprinklers on so the water can keep the berries warm.

“Colder temperatures bring on the redness of the fruit,” said Hansen.

Ocean Spray takes a sample of the berries and uses a machine to calculate the color of the pixels in the berries to determine at what color stage would make the perfect product. Once they give Du Bay the go-ahead to harvest, they begin the process.

Cranberries are turning a rich red indicating they're ready for harvest.
Cranberries are turning a rich red indicating they're ready for harvest.(wsaw)

“We’ll put a little thin layer of water down just to cover just underneath the top of the vines. We’ll remove our irrigation system out, then we’ll bring in a tractor with a harvesting machine on it. It’s called a harrow, and it will gently knock off the berries,” said Hansen.

The berries float because they are mostly hollow on the inside with four chambers and little seeds. They then collect the floating barriers, sort them from the leaves and ship them to Ocean Spray.

Before the 50s, they used a scooping tool to harvest the berries by hand. With the high demand now, there is no way they could harvest 40 thousand barrels in a few weeks without using machines.

Ocean Spray produces 60% of cranberries worldwide and have been the number one producer of cranberries for 27 years. Hansen said it’s peak harvest time and it’s the perfect time to visit a cranberry marsh.

Did you know about 4,400 cranberries are needed to make one gallon of cranberry juice? Cranberries are a superfood and they are high in antioxidants, vitamin D, Vitamin C and Fiber.

Here is a website with a bunch of delicious cranberry recipes. This is a link to a list of cranberry marshes that have tours.

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