Saturday, October 13, 2018

Fun in the Bogs

My hubby and I went on a fun excursion yesterday to the cranberry bogs.  This is cranberry harvesting season in Wisconsin.  There is an area in central Wisconsin where 60% of the US cranberry crop is grown.  We learned all kinds of interesting facts about cranberries.  Like what, you might ask.  Like there are only 5 states that grow cranberries. Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wisconsin.  Cranberries are a native plant and are grown from transplants, not seeds. Cranberries have more vitamin C than oranges and are the highest fruits in antioxidants.

So we drove halfway across the state (2 1/2 hours) to Pittsville High School to take a tour.  This high school offers to only class in Cranberry Science in the US and the students conduct the tours as part of their class.  We first watched a video and then got on a school bus to drive to a local cranberry marsh.  (They didn't call them bogs.)  The students took the bus with us and using a megaphone, told us all about cranberry farming and processing.  They were really very knowledgable of the whole thing and many worked at one of the facilities.

Here are a few photos of the marsh area and the cranberries being harvested.

The plants grow only about 6" tall.  All the berries in the foreground are waste berries that have fallen off of trucks.  

This is called support land where water is stored in a reservoir.
The field is flooded when it is time to harvest.  The berries are raked loose with a harrow on a tractor and then they float to the surface.  They are gathered with a boom, a large flexible strap or hose that corrals them.

 More berries being corralled.  The white berries are separated out for white cranberry juice.  (It doesn't stain kids' clothes.)

Berries are pumped from the field.  Debris and water go in the dump truck.  Berries go up the conveyor on the left.

Dirt and waste into the dump truck.

Gazillions of berries into a semi.

Then we went to a processing plant where the berries are cleaned, tested, and put in large wooden bins totaling 1300# of berries.
The semis dump the berries into a large vat about 8 feet deep that is outdoors.

They are washed and screened several times for debris.

The berries are then loaded and weighed in the wooden bins.
 The bins are either sent to a facility down the road to be made into juice or dried cranberries ...
or they are stacked 9 high and put in cold storage (-10 degrees) until needed.  It was only 32 outside yesterday, but WOW was it cold in that freezer!!  The students said it is great fun to come in the freezer in summer and lob frozen berries at each other. 

After the tour we returned to the school for lunch.  We were served Wisconsin cheese soup (we are the dairy state, after all), a pulled pork sandwich with cranberry horseradish sauce, yummy, and vanilla ice cream with cranberry sauce.

This was the placemat we had for our lunch.  I got such a hoot out of reading all the ads and especially the cheer at the top of the mat. It was so big I couldn't get it all in one scan on my printer.

Only in Wisconsin!!

We each received a goody bag to take home with cranberry juice and a package of dried cranberries.

They were also selling small bags of dried, flavored cranberries and I couldn't resist.

Ever heard of Jalapeno Cranberries?  Can't wait to try those!!

Message of the Day:


The tour was $20 per person which included lunch, our goody bag, and money left over for their scholarship fund.  How great is that??!!!


  1. I'm Wisconsin native, but I know very little about the cranberries grown in the state... until now! This was fun to read... and how great to have local students to be involved in the process, the tours, etc. Thanks for making me a little homesick for my birthplace... in a good way!