Once the harvest is completed in late fall, the cranberry vines are given time to dry out and become dormant. You’ll see the color of the bog change to a deep burgundy. Winter flood, typically applied during the later winter months, protects the vines from extreme cold and harsh winter winds. The bud for the 2021 fall crop is already on the vine, and protecting it from the winter elements is a priority.
While the cranberry bogs are flooded, an opportunity for tending the vines presents itself. Growers typically use two methods of sanding: ice sanding and barge (water) sanding. Thick ice allows for the use of buggies to scamper over the ice, dropping a thin layer of sand. When ice sanding is not an option, a water barge is used to accomplish the same goal on the flooded bog. Watch our video here.
Both methods allow sand to filter down to the bog surface. The sand provides nutrients, helps with insect control, and prunes long vines. When the sand lands on a long running vine, roots and a new plant will form. It is not uncommon for a single long vine to create several new plants after being sanded. The practice of sanding is generally performed every three to five years, per bog. The A.D. Makepeace Company sands 500 to 600 acres of bog annually.
The small size of the cranberry industry means the major manufacturers don’t cater to our specialized equipment needs. Therefore, our maintenance team creates, builds, and maintains most of our machinery including picking machines, pumps, harvesting equipment, and some farm vehicles. While the manufacturing of equipment happens throughout the year, the winter allows for additional attention to be paid to such efforts.
In addition, the winter months allow for spring renovation planning, forestry management, skills/management training, and educational classes and certifications for our team.