How South Haven-area farm harvests cranberries

Southwest Michigan

SOUTH HAVEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A farm near South Haven is opening to the public this weekend so you can see firsthand how cranberries are harvested.

“It’s fun. It’s fun time of year. Harvest is probably the best time of the year,” grower Mike DeGrandchamp said.

DeGrandchamp Farms, run by brothers Mike and Bob DeGrandchamp, has been growing blueberries for 60 years and cranberries for 25.

“There’s only about three or four of us growers in the state that grow cranberries,” Mike DeGrandchamp told 24 Hour News 8 Friday. “Michigan is a good place to grow cranberries, there just isn’t a lot of growers here right now.”

Harvest is already underway at his cranberry bogs off 20th Avenue in South Haven Township. The cranberries are knocked off their plants. The fields are then flooded with water pumped in from a nearby reservoir.

“The reason why we flood the fields is because they’re a hollow berry and they float up to the top and we can move them,” Bob DeGrandchamp explained.

The cranberries are sucked up using a pump that has been modified from the fishing industry. They’re fed into a hopper, where they’re sprayed with clean water, then ride a conveyor into wagons that will take them back to a production facility for additional cleaning.

The harvest so far has been good.

“Our color today is absolutely perfect. I couldn’t ask for any better,” Bob DeGrandchamp said.

Most of his cranberries will go to an Ocean Spray production facility in Wisconsin where they’ll be made into juice and Craisins. The rest will go up for sale at the DeGrandchamp’s farm store or at local farmers markets.

The open cranberry harvest will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the farm, which is on 14th Avenue at Blue Star Highway. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.

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