On the Road with Tom and Gloria travel blog



Today I stopped at the Cranberry Discovery Center located in the tiniest of towns called Warrens . Who knew that Wisconsin is the world's largest producer of cranberries - 250 growers, 180,000 acres. Interestingly, of those 180,000 acres , cranberries are only harvested on 18,000 acres. The rest is called "support land" - natural and man made wetlands, woodlands and uplands. It is a support system of ditches, dikes, dams and reservoirs that are needed to ensure an adequate water supply to the marshes. Because these wetlands are relatively inaccessible , they are home to lots of endangered and rare species such as the calypso orchid, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, eagles and loons.

The cranberry plant is native to North America . Native Americans gathered the fruit in the wild and legend has it that cranberries were served on the first Thanksgiving. The first European settlers thought the fruit blossom looked odd - like the head, neck, and beak of the Great Sandhill Crane. They called the berry the " Craneberry" which later got shortened to cranberry.

Cranberries grow in low lying areas where the soil is acetic and where there is lots of water for irrigation, frost protection, winter protection and harvesting. It takes 3-5 years for a new cranberry bed to produce a large enough crop for harvest but , once established, the vines produce fruit for decades. Cranberries don't grow under water or in standing water. The vines blossom in late June and then the honeybees do their thing. By early August small green berries appear. By September the berries have turned red and are ready to be harvested in time for the holiday season. The beds are flooded and the fruit is gently removed from the vine by raking.

I had contacted the owner of Arpin Marsh to see if I could get a tour. This week is planting week so he was very busy. He said if it rained they would not be planting and I should contact him again. Even though it rained like crazy today, it was too cold and nasty to bother him. I took a picture of a bog - not much to see since there are no blossoms yet. June 25th is Cranberry Blossom Day here in Warrens and the marsh tours should be wonderful then.

Entry Rating:     Why ratings?
Please Rate:  
Thank you for voting!
Share |