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Straight from the Bog: Standards Aid in Cranberry Harvest

New York, Nov 21, 2007

As Americans look forward to tomorrow’s celebration of Thanksgiving, cranberries will be served in some form at nearly every table. Sliced from the can or made into a glistening sauce on the stovetop, this versatile and healthful fruit is a part of our national heritage. Native Americans were known to use cranberries for their healing properties, but it wasn’t until Revolutionary War veteran Henry Hall planted the first commercial cranberry beds in 1816 that cranberry farming became a viable enterprise.

Did You Know?

The name cranberry derives from the Pilgrim name for the fruit, “craneberry,” so called because the plant’s small, pink blossoms resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane.

Source: Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association
Today, the berries are grown on over 40,000 acres of cranberry bogs located throughout the northern United States. Berries that are meant to be sold fresh for cooking and baking purposes are most often dry harvested, where farmers use walk-behind machines to rake the fruit off of the vines. In contrast, flooding the bogs yields berries that are used for juices, sauces, and other processed applications. More than 85 percent of the American cranberry crop is wet harvested each fall with the help of several agricultural and irrigation standards.

During the harvest, farmers drive water reel type harvesters through the bogs. Once the berries are loosened, they float to the surface of the water to be collected and loaded onto conveyor belts for quality review. An American National Standard from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) ensures the safety of farmers and other workers as they go about this slippery task. ANSI/ASAE S318.16 provides a reasonable degree of personal safety during the normal operation of agricultural equipment.

Some farmers flood their bogs by pumping water directly from a nearby pond. An American National Standard from the American Society of Sanitary Engineering (ASSE) details the performance requirements for outdoor enclosures that house fluid conveying equipment. Compliance with ANSI/ASSE 1060-2006 helps reassure farmers that their pumps, metering devices, and other equipment will not freeze during the winter months when bogs are flooded to protect the fragile vines.

Though the bogs are flooded only twice per year, careful irrigation of the cranberry vines must continue year round. A series of standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 23, Sub Committee (SC) 18 addresses irrigation and draining equipment and systems. ANSI member the Irrigation Association is the administrator of the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to TC 23/SC 18.

For more information about cranberries, including recipes and health benefits, visit

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