July 9, 2018

Suitable soil for cranberries

Cranberry belongs to the Ericaceae or heath family, to which plants in the genera Rhododendron and Kalmia (laurels) also belong. Members of this family prefer acidic soils  that are moist, well drained and high in organic matter (3-15%).

Cranberries are shallow-rooted (4 inches) evergreen vines that grow low to the ground. It is a long-lived perennial. Beds have been drained, cleared, leveled and covered with a one to two inch layer of sand before the field is planted to select vines. Optimal soil pH for cranberry production is between 4.0 and 5.5.

A cranberry bed is commonly constructed by placing sandy soil on a subgrade containing high levels of both organic matter and clay. Most beds fewer than 200 feet wide are constructed with the center of the bed higher than the edges, making a “crown.”

Cranberry bog soil is unique because it consists of alternating layers of sand and organic matter. Dead leaves (also referred to as trash or duff) accumulate over the course of time and sand is placed on top of the organic material every two to five years to encourage upright production and maintain productivity.

Cranberries require good drainage and fail to thrive if the soil remains saturated for short periods during the growing season. Drainage is important because nutrient uptake requires the expenditure of energy, and oxygen is required for this process. When soils are saturated, air is excluded and nutrient uptake stops.
Suitable soil for cranberries
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