Long cultivated for it’s tart purple-red berries, popular in cranberry sauce, the American cranberry requires moist, free draining acidic ground to do well. Providing those conditions are met, it is very easy to grow.
Large scale commercial producers construct special beds that can be briefly flooded several times a year. This helps reduce certain pests (generally only a problem in large scale production), control weeds and also facilitates harvest. However, for the small scale producer, cranberries can be easily grown on wide, slightly raised beds. An established bed will yield 1-2kg (occasionally 3kg) per m2 (10-20t/ha)
For best results, the water table should be maintained at 30-60cm below the ground surface. The American cranberry does not thrive in permanently waterlogged or very dry ground. The ideal pH is 4.0-5.0 (upper limit 5.5)
The cranberry has massive potential in Ireland. Although trialed in the 1980s and 90s by Bord na Mona, the idea at the time was to compete on international markets. This proved unsuccessful.
For niche Irish markets, the cranberry has lots of potential. For small scale or low density production, cranberries are perfectly suited to organic methods. Cranberries combine well with aronia and apple for a sugar-free cranberry sauce.