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N.L. boosts cranberry yields

Newfoundland and Labrador’s bid to develop its cranberry industry has borne over 25 per cent more fruit this year.

The province on Monday reported a record 2008 harvest of 172,365 kg of cranberries for 2008, up from the previous year’s 136,077. That’s about $325,000 worth of cranberries at the farm gate, before processing adds another $300,000 in value, the province said.

Indian Bay Frozen Foods of Bonavista Bay bought 80 per cent of the 2008 crop to package and freeze mostly for exports to Europe. Chatham Biotec Ltd., a New Brunswick nutraceutical firm looking to harness the berries’ properties as a treatment for urinary tract infections and other conditions, bought 15 per cent. The remaining five per cent was sold locally, the province said.

The Pilgrim variety continues to outperform all other varieties, the province said. In 2008, three out of the four Pilgrim fields harvested exceeded 200 barrels per acre, or 9,071 kg per acre. The Pilgrim field at Terra Nova produced 270 barrels per acre.

This year, 10 new acres of the Pilgrim variety were planted and 30 to 35 more acres have been prepared for planting in spring 2009, the province added.

“The cranberry strategy developed in 2006 set a goal of having 600 to 800 acres of commercial bogs producing in 10 years. I believe we will surpass that in the next five years,” said Kathy Dunderdale, minister for the provincial Forestry and Agrifoods Agency, in a release.

“We have several large corporations within the province and internationally that are engaged in securing land for cranberry development and this bodes well for future development and processing.”

The province last month pledged $2.95 million for a Cranberry Industry Development Program to produce new plants for expanded acreage and to provide for site development and specialized equipment. Eligible applicants can get funding through the program worth $15,000 per acre for up to 10 acres per year.

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