Have you ever been curious about how cranberries are grown and harvested? Heidi Slinkman takes us on a tour of her farm, Gaynor Cranberry Company, to teach us more about the process of cranberry farming.
About Gaynor Cranberry Company
Gaynor Cranberry Company is located in the Central Sands of Wisconsin - cranberry capital of the United States! Our guide, Heidi Slinkman, is a 3rd generation cranberry grower, who will take us behind-the-beds as they work to harvest over 200 acres of cranberries. Explore the farm as they flood cranberry beds, float cranberries, and load up trucks headed for quick-cool facilities to ensure your cranberries are ready for the holidays.
Cranberries grow from spring to fall on perennial vines, meaning they come back each year and go dormant in the winter. Cranberry plants favor sandy soil to provide adequate filtration. At Gaynor Cranberry Company, there are drainage tiles in the beds to help remove excess water to assist filtration. The farm also has above ground sprinkler irrigation systems, which not only water the cranberries, but also helps to create friction with the moving water to prevent the cranberries from freezing.
When cranberries are ready to be harvested, they can vary from a deep red to bright white color. Harvesting cranberries is a unique process because the fields are flooded with water. The farm then uses a harrow, which combs the vines to knock the berries off the branches. The berries are buoyant and float at the top of the flooded field because they have four hollow pockets inside of them. The berries are then collected together in the flooded field using a cranberry boom, and then a berry pump brings them out of the water. The berries are sorted from the leaves by the pump and put into dump trucks so they can be shipped to Ocean Spray Cooperative to make popular cranberry products, such as craisins and cranberry juice!
To learn more about the unique process of growing and harvesting cranberries, check out the virtual field trip video.