Sinkhole swallows trees whole in Louisiana swamp
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!
"Be always at War with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you, a better person." - Benjamin Franklin
Cranberries and Wetlands - Part I
The holidays - traditionally the peak season for cranberries, the cheery, red wetland fruit has just past. Prior to the inspired invention of cranberry juice and dried cranberries, they were largely overlooked outside of Thanksgiving. Today it is a popular year around fruit, now only 20% of the cranberries are used during Thanksgiving.
The North American cranberry () is a unique, perennial vine that shares some characteristics with its cousins, the blueberry and the ornamental rhododendron. Snaking along the ground, the cranberry vine produces runners ranging in length from one to six feet. From these runners, vertical branches grow, and where the majority of the cranberries are found. Hardy but finicky about soil and water conditions, some vines on Cape Cod are more than 150 years old and are still bearing fruit!
The cranberry is naturally found in wetlands commonly referred to as bogs, with acidic waters, generally in the 4.0 - 5.0 Ph range. It bears mentioning that the Ph requirements for growing cranberries is unique, simply put, the most acidic environment an average vegetable plant can thrive in is the least acidic environment a cranberry plant will accept. Cranberry bogs also require sandy soil, fresh water and enough cold weather to force the plants into dormancy so they will produce a crop the following year.
The cranberry growth cycle is lengthy, spanning a total of 16 months starting from bud set through dormancy, flowering, fruiting, and finally, harvest. The short harvest period stretches from late September to early November in any given year, and perfectly coincides with the Holiday season.
If there is an single image that symbolizes what many people know about cranberries - it is the acres of floating cranberries commonly seen on cranberry juice commercials, and its a popular misconception. The fields are flooded only during the harvest, the bogs are mechanically thrashed, gently separating the berries from the stems and allowing the the berries to float to the surface for gathering and storage.
In storage, the cranberries are hardy fruits, resistant to rot after being picked and will remain edible for months if kept cool. For this attribute alone, the berry was highly regarded by Native Americans and settlers, it was called a "bog berry" or "bitter berry" by Native Americans, and is mentioned throughout early American writings.
Due to the cranberries popularity, production increased rapidly during the 1980s and 1990's; coinciding with a growing awareness of the importance of wetlands, and newly enacted laws to protect them. In the next section, I'll review how cranberry farming has affected wetlands, and how the industry and laws has evolved during the past 50 years.
Check out this great youtube video about cranberries in the meantime.
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Wetlands in the News
- Wings Over Wetlands Family Discovery Days - U-T San Diego
- Car skids into Bolsa Chica Wetlands; two inside are unharmed - OCRegister
- Here's your chance to help save wetlands - Daily Comet
- Mitigation Project Adds Wetlands To Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - WGCU News
- Controversial wetlands project under way near Bend - Washington Times