'Perfect season' for cranberry growers

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“ Perfect season ” cranberry producers

90% of Quebec cranberries are grown in the Centre-du -Quebec, according to the Cranberry Growers Association. (Archives)

Quebec cranberry growers recorded record harvests in 2022: 336 million pounds of berries were picked, 116 million more than last year. The largest proportion (90%) was grown in Centre-du-Québec, says the Cranberry Growers Association.

Grower and co-shareholder of Jardins VMO in Drummondville, Jean Olsthoorn produced twice as much of this fruit this fall as at the same time last year.

I have never had so many cranberries in 16 years of production. It helps when we had a less good year like in 2021, he commented.

This perfect season is explained by the ideal weather conditions recorded in 2022, says Vincent Godin, president of the Association of Cranberry Producers of Quebec.

There were no extremes, no periods of extreme cold in the spring or prolonged heat waves during the summer, he notes. The buds were thus kept intact and were able to ripen abundantly.

In addition, the disappointing harvests of 2021, a year marked by intense cold and the occurrence of heat waves, have prepared the ground for what Vincent Godin describes as an exceptional season.

The cranberry is a biennial plant, so a below-average year is going to be followed by an above-average year, he points out.

The last record of production was recorded in 2016, with a total of 276 million pounds of cranberries.

Despite the presence of ideal weather conditions, cranberry growers are experiencing growing difficulties in the organic sector.

Damaging insect pressures are growing. larger and the tools we have to fight against them are quite limited, maintains Vincent Godin.

A new technique to limit the presence of insects consists in flooding the fields late, but this method is accompanied by a drop in yields. These reach only 50% of those of conventional cultivation.

In recent years, the area of ​​land devoted to organic cultivation has fallen from 30% to 22% of all cranberry crops, notes the Association of Quebec Cranberry Producers.

The president of this association specifies, however, that it could be a return to the balance between supply and demand for organic berries.

There was a huge wave of conversions from 2014 through 2019, which resulted in that there have been too many organic fruits on the market. With the conversions we're seeing, the market is stabilizing relative to demand, says Godin.

Organic production remains high compared to other crops Quebecers, he says.

With information from Coralie Laplante

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