The minimum recommended plant density is 1 rooted cutting/sq. ft. (43,560 plants/acre). The Return on Investment chart and Rutgers University fact sheets are based on data from
this planting density. Historically and currently, growers are planting from 43,560 to 80,000 plants/acre. Minimum density plantings will ultimately be just as productive as higher density plantings. However, some growers believe that the higher density yields greater returns in
the first few years of production. Research is currently underway to evaluate the most
economical and effective way of establishing a bed from foundation level plant material.
Note: Rutgers requires the use of Foundation level, virus indexed plant material when planting via cuttings.
Rooted cranberry cuttings have been successfully transplanted from early spring to fall;
however, spring is optimal. Rooted cuttings that have been stored in trays over winter, and planted in early spring show no transplant shock. Rooted cuttings that have been rooted in
late winter, greenhouse grown, and then planted in early spring may exhibit transplant shock, turning red especially if exposed to bright sun, low temperatures and early frost.
Transplant shock is usually replaced with new vigorous growth within three weeks. Growers should exercise caution with fall transplanting, plants that have not had time for adequate new root development are at risk of being uprooted by heaving, ice lifting or wave action. Deep winter floods may mitigate this risk.
Several types of transplanting machines are used by cranberry growers to plant rooted cuttings.
A multi-row furrow maker is the simplest transplanter. Workers follow behind to drop plants into the furrow and then hand plant them (requires approx. 25 people to plant 1 acre/day, or 200 hrs of labor/acre).
A custom built, semi-automated planter does 9 rows/pass. Each row has a planting shoe and packer wheels, with one worker per row to place the plant within the shoe (can plant 1.5 acres per day, approx. 55 hrs of labor/acre). It can be used with rooted cuttings raised in in either cells or open trays.
Commercially built ‘transplanters’ are widely used in the vegetable industry and the most efficient in regard to labor costs (about 40 hrs of labor/acre), but require the use of rooted cuttings raised in cells.
Fertilization and Pest Management
A typical post-planting fertilization schedule would be 5 to 10 lb N/acre at 7-14 day intervals. The fertilization program for the first two years after planting should emphasize vegetative growth to promote good vine cover.
It is important to proactively manage disease and weed problems, and monitor for insect
problems as they may develop in your new planting. Many of these management practices are described within the following resources: