How is Alpine cranberry grown
The Alpine cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea L., 1753) is a small evergreen shrub of the Ericaceae family.
It has a compact habit, which forms bushes of about 20-40 centimeters in height, with dense vegetation consisting of thin and slender twigs and small leathery bright green leaflets that take on a beautiful reddish color in winter.
The flowering period is in late spring.
Vaccinium vitis-idaea is a plant from the colder regions of the temperate zone, which experiences very cold and often long winters with short summers that can vary from cool to hot.
For its cultivation it requires soils free of limestone, humid but draining, preferring the more organic and slightly clayey ones.
From the pedological point of view it prefers a very acid soil with a pH between 4.5 and 6. On calcareous soil or with a higher pH, the plants soon become chlorotic.
It is a plant that must vegetate in humid but drained soils for which it needs continuous supplies of water, possibly not calcareous, in the driest period.
To be cultivated it requires, moreover, positions in full sun or light shade even if it bears much better fruit in a sunny position; it also requires shelter from strong winds.
Propagation occurs by seed. Sowing should be done at the end of winter in a greenhouse in a limestone-free soil, slightly covering the seed.
Once the young seedlings have reached a height of about 5 cm, they should be placed in individual pots and grown in a shaded position.
The transplant in the open field must be carried out the following year.
It can also be propagated by semi-mature wood cuttings, of 5 – 8 cm, in the period of August in the shade.
Another propagation system is through suckers in spring or early autumn.
Harvest and yields –
The fruits of the cranberry are deep red berries, with a pleasant and contrasting sweet-sour taste due to the high pectin content. They are excellent for the preparation of compotes and jams, also served to accompany game.
Fruiting is very abundant as each plant produces 200-250 grams of berries.
If they are not harvested (and are not prey to birds) the berries of the cranberry persist on the plants even throughout the winter, when the color of the vegetation becomes reddish green.
The berries are harvested between September and October and can be eaten fresh as they are, used for the preparation of American cranberry juice (cranberry juice), or dried to always have a supply of cranberries available.
Fruit yields are generally higher on peaty soils. The maximum yield in specialized cultivation can reach 8.15 tons per hectare.