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 plant them by hand. This requires approximately 25 people to plant 1 acre/day, or 200 hrs of labor/acre.
A custom built, semi-automated planter achieves nine rows in every pass. Each row has a planting shoe and packer wheels, with one worker per row to place the plant within the shoe. This method plants 1.5 acres per day, approximately 55 hrs of labor/acre. It can be used with rooted cuttings raised in either cells or open trays.
Commercially built ‘transplanters’ are widely used in the vegetable industry and achieve the most efficient labor costs (about 40 hrs of labor/acre), yet 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:
Planting Rooted Cuttings
Rooted Cuttings hasten establishment and offer greater flexibility in planting date. Plants go out into the field with a vigorous root system so top growth continues uninterrupted at planting. Rooted cranberry cuttings have been successfully transplanted from early spring to fall.
The following images depict a sequence documenting the rooted cutting planting process:
30 Days Later
58 Days Later
80 Days Later
Note: There is nearly complete coverage after 80 days.