Cranberrys on Terschelling
The cranberries grow wild in the dunes on Terschelling. Specifically in the wet dune valleys. The islanders speak here about the cranberry slices and they have all been given a name. Examples are the Douwkesplak, the Studentenplak and the plaque of post 14. There are many large and smaller plaques spread across the island. The Cranberry Heath is a massive heather species with long, tough shoots. The most ideal circumstance for this plant is a low-lime, acidic soil in which the groundwater level can vary in summer up to 25cm below ground level and during winter up to 25cm above ground level. The common species on Terschelling are the Early Black and Late Howes varieties. Cranberry heather is a very strong species but also has a weak downside, namely the sensitivity to frost during flowering. Cranberry heather blooms from late May to late June. A beautiful sight; purple-pink colored dune valleys
During the year, the cranberry cycle is as follows; first of all, the flowering period, which takes place at the end of May and June. The island is largely covered with purple-red flowers. Most plants have a first and second bloom, quite quickly.
Flowering is highly dependent on the groundwater level during the winter months. In this period there is still a great danger for the next harvest, because cranberries are strong plants but very sensitive to night frost, especially in the flowering period. Night frost can still occur in the first days of June, and the extent of the damage depends on the groundwater level at that time. In the first week of September, pickers move all over the island into the fields. Their only tool is a picking bin and some burlap bags. Until about 30 years ago, the berries were picked with bare hands, which was very suitable for the berries but less suitable for the hands and especially for the yield. When an experienced picker picked 60 to 70 kg per day, now the picking bucket can reach ten times on a very good day. For years there has been a fixed group of pickers who have the right to pick the cranberries with special picking passes from the tenant and Staatsbosbeheer. The berries are then loaded into large bags and stored in freezer rooms in preparation for production. When the official harvest is closed in October, the fields will be released for the private harvest.