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Cooperative Extension: Cranberries


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How to Grow Cranberries - Cranberry Production Timetable

NOTE: This timetable was originally created as a ‘timeline’ pamphlet in 1996 by Charles Armstrong, Cranberry Professional for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, who at the time, was part of the Maine USDA-Americorps Program. It represents the culmination of work done by individuals at Down East RC&D in Cherryfield, Maine, the Maine Department of Agriculture, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).


Suggested TIMETABLE for Planting and Growing Cranberries on a Commercial Scale [based on personal experience from both growers and experts in the field]:


PREPARATION PHASE

Gather Cranberry Information:

Site Assessment: Consider hiring private consultants and engineers for advice, and try to organize a team from the following organizations to simultaneously visit your site:

– Permit Applications: Based on the outcome of your site assessment, obtain the appropriate permit application form(s). Ask the Maine DEP (207-941-4570) about available pre-application forms.


1ST YEAR: CONSTRUCTION

January through the end of April:

Planning & Design of beds (A consultant can assist you in these areas):

Note: Solidly built, erosion-resistant dikes that supply and maintain water levels are very important. During and shortly after bog construction is when the cranberry operation is most susceptible to the ravages of erosion. [see also Maine DEP's Erosion Control Guidelines]


May through the end of June:

Bog and Dike Construction:

Note: From experience, experts agree that it is best to clear and level the land and excavate the drainage ditches the year before the vines are planted.

- Removal of surface vegetation
- Creation of erosion and sediment control structures, such as:

1. Siltation fencing
2. Staking haybales
3. Permanent and temporary mulches
4. Culverts
5. Drop structure
6. Rocked waterways
7. Sediment catch basins

- Leveling of soil surface and bed area
- Compacting subsoil
- Formation of ditches and recovery pond


July through the end of September:

Permanent and Temporary Seedings: Maintaining water quality is important. Seed over all open areas as soon as possible before winter.


October through December: 1) Continue attending Cranberry Growers Association or other types of cranberry meetings and/or special cranberry education workshops; 2) Order your cranberry vines, which are available from a variety of cranberry producing states, including Maine on occasion.


2nd YEAR: VINE ESTABLISHMENT


January through the end of February:
1)
Attend additional workshops (if available), grower meetings, Ag. Trade Shows (such as the one in Augusta, Maine), etc. 2) Re-examine your financial situation and predict and prepare for upcoming expenses

Mid-February through early April:

Final Site Preparations: 1) Watch for uneven settling of cut and fill areas that may have occurred within beds, and 2) Make any necessary repairs or improvements in your planting equipment.

April through the end of May:

  • Install sand (or sand-peat) growing medium
  • Identify low spots and regrade bed elevations as needed
  • Test the pH of the sand (or sand-peat mix) (Ideal range: 4.2 to 5.5); lower with sulfur (to lower a single pH unit, such as from 6.0 to 5.0, apply a total of 1,000 lbs per acre of sulfur, spread over 14-day increments of 200 lbs maximum per application)
  • Apply and incorporate phosphate into the sand
  • Establish irrigation system
  • PLANT VINES (May 1st through June 6th) You must plant no later than June 6th

June through the end of September:

Ground Cover Maintenance

  • Apply proper rate of fertilizers (see also Plant Nutrition FAQs)
  • Enroll in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program; Maine growers can contact Charles Armstrong at the University of Maine in Orono for details: (207) 581-2967 (no paperwork needed in order to take part).
  • Conduct soil and leaf tissue samples in subsequent years (once every 3 to 4 years for soil; every year or every other year for tissue tests); Be sure to sample only from late August – mid-September for leaf tissue tests, as that is the time period that researchers used in establishing the tissue test standards, or optimum values.  It is also the period when the nutrients in the plants are at their most stable levels.
  • Manage your weeds: 1) Perennials (pull), 2) Herbaceous (pull or cut before going to seed), 3) Grasses (herbicide), 4) Rushes & Sedges (pull or use herbicide); NOTE: It can be helpful to draw a weed map (or have one drawn) to document the type and extent of your weed problem for future reference.
  • Manage your insects (more problematic in subsequent years, once populations have found you and begun to become established): obtain a sweepnet and scout for various pests; use threshold tables and other resources found in various Maine cranberry publications (many are online through this very same site); Save unknown specimens for identification by an entomologist or cranberry specialist.

October through the end of December:

  • Keep attending any cranberry meetings or workshops that might be offered (in Maine or elsewhere)
  • Frost Protection: Flood your beds as needed or use sprinkler system during the appropriate hours [Table of Frost Tolerances]


Cranberry questions? Contact Charles Armstrong, Cranberry Professional. University of Maine Cooperative Extension || Pest Management Office || 491 College Avenue || Orono, ME 04473-1295 || Tel: (207) 581-2967 [email: charles.armstrong@maine.edu]

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Contact Information

Cooperative Extension: Cranberries
5741 Libby Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5741
Phone: 207.581.3188, 1.800.287.0274 (in Maine) or 1.800.287.8957 (TDD)E-mail: extension@maine.edu
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1865