More than 60% of the country’s cranberry crop is grown right here in Wisconsin. October is a great time to get out and see the harvest and you don’t have to drive too far either. Cranberry farms can be found in less than an hour’s drive north of Devil’s Lake State Park in Adams and Juneau Counties!
The later-than-usual fall color season and a cloudy weekend here in the Baraboo Bluffs, inspired us to head north to check out the fall colors around Mill Bluff State Park & Necedah National Wildlife Area.
While touring around we passed a bunch of cranberry bogs. In one location we came across a bog filled with water and floating red cranberries. It was a great picture opportunity! We were standing alongside the road, not willing to go onto private property of course, when a pickup truck came racing from the other side of the bog and drove up to us.
We fully expected to get told to leave, but instead we were invited to, “Come on in and look around.”! How cool is that!?? So thanks to the folks at Prehr Cranberry Co. for inviting us in!
Cranberry plants are vines that naturally grow near wetlands in marshy areas called, bogs. Cranberries don’t actually grow under water. Farmers learned that by flooding the bogs, it was just easier to harvest the berries. (Cranberries can be “dry harvested” as well.) These days most cranberry bogs are surrounded by berms or embankments. When it’s time to harvest the cranberries in the fall, the bogs are flooded with about 18 inches of water. The framers then use “Water Reels” to beat or agitate the vines so the cranberries come loose and float to the top of the water. Then with plastic booms, the cranberries are gathered together and harvested.
If you’d like to see a cranberry farm, a road trip almost anywhere around Adams & Juneau Counties will take you past cranberry farms. Just remember, these working farms are private property. If you want to see a cranberry harvest up close, you’ll have to visit one of the many Wisconsin cranberry farms that offer tours. Google has a lot of options!
To learn more visit the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association at http://www.wiscran.org/
Here are a few more shots from the Prehr Cranberry farm.