A ‘good’ harvest for cranberry growers

Cranberries are big business in Richmond - file photo
Cranberries are big business in Richmond
— image credit: file photo

Farm workers continued wading through flooded fields this week to harvest Richmond’s most bountiful crop—and growers are calling it a good season.

“It was a good year, especially coming off the last two years where we’ve had poor weather,” said Peter Dhillon, a longtime local cranberry grower.

Cranberries are big business in Richmond, the largest producer of the round red fruit among Canadian cities with more than 60 farms, according to city hall statistics.

Some farmers are still pulling berries off their fields, while Dhillon’s local crop has all been harvested.

A cold and wet June didn’t do cranberries any favours, but a relatively warm summer turned what would have been a poor year into a better-than-average year for some farmers.

“We’re happy and pleased with it,” said Dhillon. “A lot of the growers are quite pleased with it as well.”

As for the wetter-than-average October, Dhillon said that didn’t have an impact on the harvest, for which fields are flooded and floating berries are skimmed from the surface.

“We need a lot of water anyway,” he said. “It’s a little bit more difficult for working conditions, but it’s not bad at all.”

Once harvested, most local cranberries are transported to a new $26-million processing facility in East Richmond. Dhillon said the facility had a few “teething pains” in handling its first harvest, but is otherwise working well.

Many other local cranberry fields are owned by the May family. Ralph May said this season is indeed better than last.

“Some people are up, some people are down, but it’s on average much better than last year and kind of a more normal season than last year.”

Most Richmond berries head to Washington state, where they’re processed for juice and Craisins—Ocean Spray’s sweet-and-dried snack product.

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