Harvest Farms Cranberries
Wayne Kiels and of Blueberry Harvest Farms standing in his cranberry harvest.
Wayne Kiels of Blueberry Harvest Farms standing in his cranberry harvest.
Holland - (WZZM) - When you think of cranberries you may think of the juice or the iconic commercial of two men standing in a cranberry bog. What you may not think of is Michigan, but Michigan actually grows cranberries. We went to Blueberry Heritage Farms in Holland during their cranberry harvest to learn more.
Wayne Kiel is the owner of Blueberry Heritage Farms in Holland. He is one of six Michigan farmers that grow cranberries. He grows cranberries because it is a plant that compliments his blueberry harvest.
Many people think that cranberries grow in water. "That is a misconception," explains Wayne, "the only time cranberries are in water is when you harvest them."
The cranberry is a perennial plant meaning you plant it once and it will grow berries year to year without the need to replant. "There are some cranberry fields in Massachusetts," explains Wayne, "that are over 100 years old."
When the Cranberry is ready to be harvested Wayne floods his crops with 2 feet of water from a water reservoir system that he built. "If it didn't rain this weekend I would not have enough water to do this," says Wayne.
The water doesn't separate the berry from the plant that is done by either dry raking the berries off the plant before or water raking the plants. The rake system is a small tractor with a spinning device that looks a little like an old time manual grass cutter.
Once the berries are separated from the plant they float to the top, and Mother Nature takes over. "The wind today is coming out of the south," explains Wayne, "so it blew the cranberries down to the north end of the cranberry field."
The berries are then sucked up using a large gas powered motor that dumps them into a wagon. "I would say," explains Wayne, "there is probably about 60,000 pounds of cranberries here in the water."
After a washing and packaging, Harvest Farms sends the berries to local Michigan stores. "We are going to sell them through the Spartan store chains," explains Wayne, "that is how we are providing made in Michigan products.