STATE AGRICULTURE OFFICIALS PROJECT 2012 CRANBERRY CROP TO BE PLENTIFUL
This year's cranberry harvest projected to be third largest on record.
BOSTON – Wednesday, October 3, 2012 – Massachusetts is expected to yield a bountiful crop of 2.10 million barrels of cranberries in 2012. The cranberries produced by Massachusetts accounted for 30 percent of the total use of cranberries in the entire U.S. – second only to Wisconsin, which produces 57 percent of the cranberries used in the United States. Massachusetts cranberries also enjoy significant export activity and represent the largest fruit crop grown in the state.
Cranberry growth started ahead of the normal season due to the early arrival of spring. Growers delighted in good conditions during the bloom and pollination phase of the season, avoided frost damage with their modern sprinkler systems when temperatures reached below freezing in late April and early May, and battled heat stress in July. Local cranberry farmers swiftly overcame any obstacles and are preparing for a fruitful harvest.
Overall, the U.S. production forecast is 7.68 million barrels, which is down a fraction of a percent from the 2011 harvest. Production is up in New Jersey, Oregon Washington and Wisconsin. Cranberries are also grown in British Columbia and Quebec.
There are a number of Massachusetts cranberry farms which offer opportunities for the public to take part in their own personal cranberry adventure. Visitors are given the rare chance to see the bog, harvest, and purchase berries and products. Many farmers host seasonal events and celebrations as well.
“No matter your age or walk of life, visiting a cranberry bog is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that is quite unique to our region,” said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Greg Watson. “Every time I talk to cranberry farmers, I’m more and more impressed with the diversification of their products as well as the technological advances they are employing to stay competitive on the world stage.”
At Mayflower Cranberries in Plympton, one can put on waders, step into the bog, and help with the harvest as part of the grower experience. Most farms host school groups, private groups, and youth organizations, and many are handicapped accessible as well. To find a bog near you visit: http://www.cranberries.org/visit/index.html and http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/index.htm.
This year marks the 9th anniversary of the Cranberry Harvest Celebration in Wareham, presented by the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association (CCCGA) and the A.D. Makepeace Company. The CCCGA was established in 1888 making it one of the country’s oldest farmers’ organizations. A.D. Makepeace Co. is the world’s largest cranberry grower, currently harvesting nearly 2,000 acres. The festival will take place on Columbus Day weekend (October 6 & 7) from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., at 158 Tihonet Road, Wareham. The festival is a fun and educational family-friendly event (but no pets please) which allows visitors to engage in the unique world of cranberry-growing while enjoying the scenic outdoors.
The main attraction is the guided tour of the bog where guests can get up-close and personal with growers and their product, and the adventurous folk can take helicopter rides to get an aerial view of all of the harvest happenings. The celebration features over 50 artists and craft vendors, live entertainment, and cooking demonstrations. Kids can enjoy the pony and train rides, face painting, live bird show, pumpkin decorating, bouncy house, and much more. Food vendors will be serving up everything from cider doughnuts to stuffed quahogs, not to mention a wide array of cranberry specialties.
The event also serves as an annual fundraiser for local non-profit organizations such as The Boys and Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity. For more information on the harvest celebration visit www.cranberryharvest.org.
The cranberry is also a nutritional and antibacterial powerhouse - a true super fruit! Historically, both the fruit and leaves were used medicinally to treat wounds, diabetes, urinary disorders, liver problems, diarrhea, and other stomach ailments. They are commonly known for their use in preventing urinary tract infections which can eventually lead to stomach ulcers, but have also been found to be beneficial for dental and heart health, for the prevention of cancer, kidney stones, yeast infections, cataracts, and also for overall health maintenance.
Cranberries are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and fiber. They contain compounds called phytochemicals and antioxidants which protect the body’s cells from damage which can lead to disease. The berry’s anti-adhesion properties prevent bacteria such as E. coli and H. pylori from adhering to the lining of the stomach and urinary tract, preventing infection. This same function can occur in the mouth to protect the teeth from plaque and gum disease. The cranberry’s antioxidants can reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) oxidation, and in doing so defend against atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease.
Studies also suggest that cranberries have the ability to protect the brain from damage and reduce cognitive decline, keeping us young and sharp. According to The Cranberry and Human Health Research Review and the Cranberry Institute, all product forms of cranberry provide the same health benefits but in order to maximize the benefits of cranberry consumption the following equivalencies for daily consumption have been calculated: one 8 oz. serving of 27 percent cranberry juice; 1/4 cup of fresh cranberries; 1/3 cup of dried cranberries; 1/4 cup cranberry sauce.
Best known as a delicious side dish to the Thanksgiving feast, there are many savory year-round recipes that use cranberries to enhance day-to-day meals. The U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee (www.uscranberries.com) provides more information about cranberries including suggestions that help make them a part of your daily routine. Make today a holiday by incorporating them into your mealtime repertoire with recipes like Cranberry Avocado Salsa, and Grilled Portabella Mushrooms Stuffed with Cranberry & Sausage Stuffing, courtesy of the CCCGA. Deepen your knowledge, nourish your body, and tickle your taste buds as often as possible this cranberry season. Fresh from the bog cranberries are available for a limited time only, from the month of September to November, but can also be enjoyed frozen or dried all year round.
DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services - DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth's agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at twitter.com/MDARCommish.