University of Tennessee State Apiculturist John Skinner has recently been part of a research project to find out more about the pollination of cranberries and other berries in the eastern United States. Below is his report, which was originally published in The Hive Tool, the newsletter of the Tennessee Beekeepers Association.
The Amazing Cranberry –Bogs, Bees and Berries
By John Skinner, Professor and UT Extension Bee Specialist
Recently I returned from a trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts, where Michael Wilson and I videotaped and photographed blooming cranberry bogs and the people that make this successful. This is a continuation of the cooperative project that started last year with low bush blueberry in Maine.
Our Maine cooperator, Dr. Frank Drummond participated in the TBA convention last year. I returned from this trip in awe of such a unique crop, its rich American history, the balance of maintaining a bog environment and the challenges getting this crop pollinated.
Dr. Anne Averill, Entomologist from the University of Massachusetts and her technician and great organizer sister Marty escorted us from bog to bog. We interviewed growers, industry representatives, cranberry association people, and scientists studying all aspects of cranberry production and pollination.
Cranberry is a plant that grows native from the Carolinas to the Maritime Provinces of Canada. Cape Cod is the birthplace of the industry. The plant requires acidic peat soils, coarse sand, a constant water supply and a long frost free season. The area around Plymouth is ideal for this crop. In the 1880s the Cape Cod Cranberry Association was formed.