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Nutrient Management for Cranberries

Click here to view UMass Extension's nutrient management guidelines and BMPs for other agricultural commodities and green industries.

Properly managing the amount of fertilizer used on cranberry bogs can have both environmental and financial benefits for growers.  Financial benefits may be achieved by not applying more fertilizer than necessary, using split applications to increase efficiency (and reduce amount applied), and limiting nitrogen applications to avoid a shift from fruit production to production of vegetation. While it is important to consider financial benefits when choosing nutrient management practices, a grower should always consider the potential impact to water quality and requirements for meeting water quality standards when formulating the management plan.

Nutrient and water management go hand-in-hand in cranberry production. Many recommendations for nutrient management Best Management Practices (BMPs) relate to water management. Water Management BMPs, while not a part of a mandated nutrient management plan, should be reviewed periodically as you implement your plan.

Massachusetts state-wide plant nutrient regulations (330 CMR 31.00) have been promulgated by MDAR and have been approved. They establish standards for application of plant nutrients to agricultural land and non-agricultural turf and lawns.  The regulations for agricultural land became effective on December 5, 2015.

Information, documents and resources can be accessed through the “Plant Nutrient Management” link on the MDAR main webpage or directly through the following link:  The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association also offers Nutrient Management Planning via their BOGs Software tool.

Templates and Tools

Templates and tools that growers can use for developing a Nutrient Management Plan as required by the regulations have been developed by the Cranberry Station and can be downloaded using these links:

Requirements for a Cranberry Plan (Word document)

Cranberry Plan Requirements

Nutrient Managment Plan Template (Word document)

Nutrient Plan Template

Enter your information in the shaded areas and attach your maps.

How to calculate N, P, and K rates (Word document)

How to Calculate Rates

This information is also in the Chart Book.

Nutrient Calculator Tool (Excel file)

Nutrient Calculator Tool

Enter your info in the blue boxes and the spreadsheet does the calculations - one tab for starting from the desired rate and the other for starting from the nutrient source (fertilizer).  Note: this Excel file should be opened as 'Read only' and then saved with a new name - this prevents overwriting the calculation formulas.

Record keeping example (Excel file)

Record Keeping Example

This is an example based on State Bog.

Record keeping tool (Excel file)

Record Keeping Template

Open as 'Read only' and save under a new name to preserve the contents.

Same as the file above but with blank fields for you to fill in.

Cranberry Chart Book

See the Nutrition section of the current Cranberry Chart Book

The Cranberry Chart Book is the best specific resource for information regarding nutrient management for MA cranberries is the Nutrition section of the Cranberry Chart Book.  This resource is updated annually by Extension Faculty at the UMass Cranberry Station and covers the 4Rs of plant nutrition for cranberry:

Use the right material in the right amount at the right time in the right place. Included are specific recommendations including recommendations for reducing phosphorus use, instructions for calculating fertilizer rates, and environmental cautions.

Best Management Practices

Download pdfs of Cranberry Station Best Management Practices Guide

The faculty of the Cranberry Station in consultation with cranberry growers, USDA NRCS, and international colleagues have developed a Best Management Practices Guide for Massachusetts Cranberry Production.  BMPs are those practices, identified through research and experience, that meet the horticulture needs of the crop and provide protection for and enhancement of the environment.  They are effective and implementable.

The Nutrient Management BMP was revised and updated in 2010. It includes recommendations for nutrient management in producing bogs and new plantings. Specific recommendations for properly managing nitrogen and phosphorus are included.  Appropriate water management practices to enhance environmental quality are also included in the BMP guide. 

Publications developed by the Cranberry Plant Nutrition Working Group

In addition to these primary resources, there are additional materials developed by a working group of scientists from the North American cranberry growing regions that are useful to consult during the development of a nutrient management plan.  Some of these are also listed in the resource section of the Nutrient Management BMP or in the Chart Book.

Phosphorus Management

Nitrogen Management

Tissue Testing

The Physiology of Cranberry Yield

Answers to common nutrition questions

Cranberries, a nutrient management guide for south coastal Oregon

Prepared January 2016, Carolyn DeMoranville, UMass Cranberry Station