Last updated: Summer, 2016
For current information, click ‘What’s on Now’ (above)
If you come for a summer farm tour at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh in Bala, Muskoka, Ontario, you’ll discover how we ‘bloom and grow.’ Cranberries blossom in July and, by August the berries have formed. It’s now near the end of August, and we have lots of green berries on the marsh. The development of cranberries starts in June with the ‘hook’ stage. These tight flower buds start to open, progressing through partial bloom to full bloom and then into fruit set. (For more information on blossoms, click here.)
Once the fruit has set, the berries grow to their mature size. Rain is important during this time for fruit growth. While it’s been a dry summer, we can irrigate to mimic rainfall – cranberries need an inch of water per week. As the berries grow larger, they can start to turn red. This happens particularly to the berries that are at the surface of the vines and to the side of the berry that faces the sun. That’s because sunshine draws the red pigment onto the skin. Cold also draws out the pigment, which is why we harvest in late September – after the first frosts.
Another interesting development in August is the formation of the bud that carries the potential for next year’s crop. This bud sets in mid-August at the tip of the cranberry upright. From now until harvest, we’re managing two crops. After that, we have to manage the vines carefully through the winter to ensure that potential survives.
It looks like a good crop this year – we’re counting the days to harvest!