Cranberry bog owner aims for healthier, disease-resistant varieties
The Discovery Hill Cranberry Bog in Sandwich, Mass., is undergoing renovations to accommodate a new kind of cranberry.
The bog’s owner, Doug Beaton, says he’s replacing the native cranberries with three new hybrid varieties which contain better antioxidants and are disease-resistant. The hybrid varieties were developed by Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research at Rutgers University. Ocean Spray has been funding research for the last 20 years to produce the new cranberries. Rutgers will receive a small royalty on each barrel of cranberries harvested.
“These new varieties can yield three to four times more [cranberries] than the older native varieties,” Beaton says.
Beaton is a sixth generation cranberry grower. His family owns more than 1,000 acres of cranberry bogs throughout Massachusetts, which include acreage in Wareham, Carver, Plymouth, Marion and Rochester.
He started renovating his cranberry bog in Wareham in 2006 and expects to harvest between 70 and 100 barrels of cranberries from that bog this year. He plans to replace the native cranberries with the hybrid varieties at all of his bogs within the next 10 years. He says he had to plant the new cranberries because “it was getting economically unfeasible to maintain [the cranberry bog] on a yearly basis.”
It costs between $300 and $500 an acre per year to produce cranberries and “the return from the old varieties wasn’t there,” Beaton says.
Beaton expects to harvest the first cranberries from the Discovery Hill Cranberry Bog in 2010. He says the bog will be completely covered with the new cranberry vines in three to four years.
Research shows that Beaton’s profits will skyrocket once the new cranberries are planted, but he says “time will tell” how much more cranberries will be produced.
“Locally produced produce helps out the economy, it should give us a better sense of security and safety in what we’re buying, and I think everybody’s realizing that it’s a good thing,” Beaton says.
He says “cranberries are an important part of the Cape’s folklore” and vows to maintain the cranberry bog in Sandwich “as long as it’s financially feasible.”