Cranberry Facts

The Wisconsin Rapids area is one of the most important cranberry producing regions on the planet. Here are some interesting facts about Wisconsin’s official state fruit.

  • Wisconsin is perennially the top cranberry-producing state in the nation.
  • The five major states cranberries are grown in are: Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.
  • Only three major fruits are native to North America: the cranberry, blueberry and Concord grape.
  • Although it may take three to five years for a new cranberry bed to produce a large enough crop for harvest, the vines will continue to produce a crop for several decades.
  • In early times, cranberries were shipped to market in wooden barrels, transported by train. Each barrel weighed 100 pounds. Although many years have passed since cranberries were shipped in barrels, this unit of weight remains the industry standard.
  • Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water. A perennial plant, cranberries grow on low-running vines in sandy bogs and marshes. Because cranberries float, some bogs are flooded when the fruit is ready for harvesting. Others are harvested using machines that resemble lawnmowers that “comb” fresh cranberries off the vines.
  • The hearty cranberry vine thrives in conditions that would not support most other crops – acidic soil with few nutrients. The cranberry can also withstand low temperatures.
  • Cranberries are Wisconsin’s number one fruit crop. Some marshes in the state have been successfully producing a crop for over 100 years.
  • On average, every acre of cranberry bog is supported by 4 to 10 acres of wetlands, woodlands and uplands. This area offers refuge to a rich variety of wildlife including the bald eagle, osprey, great blue heron, fox, deer and wild turkey.
  • In the 1880s, a New Jersey grower named John “Peg Leg” Webb discovered the “cranberry bounce.” Instead of carrying his crop down from the storage loft of his barn, he poured them down the steps. Only the freshest, firmest fruit reached the bottom; rotten or bruised berries remained on the steps. This discovery led to the invention of bounceboards, which helped growers separate rotten berries that didn’t bounce from the fresh ones.