UK cranberry production boosted by growing technique

A new growing technique being pioneered in Kent means that Britain could soon become a major producer of cranberries.

Most cranberries are grown in boggy areas of North America and eastern Europe. As the berries grow, they swell up with air. At harvest time, the ground is then deliberately flooded, causing the berries to float on the water surface from which they are easy to pick.

Not only is this method impractical in most parts of Britain, but the water can also hasten decay in the fruit.

But Redeva, the research division of berry producer Total Worldfresh, has been pioneering a dry harvesting system, under which the fruit is grown in pots on raised tables like strawberries.

Agronomist Peter Bevan has been overseeing production at the Mockbeggar site in Kent. "Traditionally, cranberries take a long time to establish, but we estimate that our technology halves this to three years," he said. "Our aim is to make UK cranberry production into a sustainable business."

The first crop will be harvested over the next few weeks. The marketing group Total Berry, of which the farm is a part, believes that there will be a ready market for the cranberries.

A Total Berry representative said: "Our first crop is relatively small, but this will grow significantly over the next few years. We've got a lot of interest from retailers, although we can't go into details at the moment.

"But we do believe that we could soon be seeing volume production and large quantities of our cranberries in British supermarkets within a very short time."


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