• Inaugurates
    it's new plant in Plessisville

  • Fruit d'Or wins 2016 Canadian Export Business Award !

  • ... Obtains the FSSC 22 000 certification recognized by GFSI.

  • Fruit d’Or products are distributed worldwide

  • The cold helps to develop the characteristic cranberry color

  • Fruit d’Or has reduced its water consumption by 13%

  • Fruit d’Or reduced electricity consumption by 16% in 2009

Certifications


At Fruit d’Or, the quality of our products is one of our driving forces. In order to provide our clients with the highest food safety and an efficient traceability system, we offer products that meet food certifications recognized worldwide.

FSSC 22000

Approved by the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative), FSSC 22000 is a management system on food safety based on ISO 22000: 2005 and the prerequisite programs, BSI PAS 220 to better manage and ensure the safety of food products.


Production

Organic product

Quebec is currently one of the most dynamic regions regarding cranberry development and farming. The land used to grow this plant is of the poorest quality and is often ignored by traditional agriculture. The soil is mainly pure acid sand, which can be found in much of Quebec.
Every spring through to mid-July, those sow by well-known cranberry growers and new fields also new to the profession. Fruit d’Or is fortunate enough to have access to this resource and is supplied almost exclusively by Quebec farmers. Here is an overview of the farming methods and of our suppliers.

Cranberry bogs are flooded as soon as several days of freezing weather are forecast at temperatures below -10°C.


Not everyone agrees with this practice but its theory is undisputed. Some say it protects the vines against extreme cold weather. Leaving the roots of the vines in the ice means that the temperatures remain more constant and do not drop to the cold northern winter temperatures.

The other theory is almost the complete opposite. Indeed, some people believe that freezing the bogs enables the cold to penetrate through the ice more easily than snow and therefore leads to a complete shutdown of the plant’s metabolic activity. Thus, the plant lies dormant all winter and doesn’t risk being deprived of oxygen under the snow.

The two theories therefore lead to believe that the ice is used to chill the vines thus avoiding exposure to extremely cold temperatures.

The ice is also used to enable access to the machinery that sandblasts the bogs. However, even though the bogs are not sandblasted every year, the water is systematically frozen to ice.

Sand is applied to the cranberry bogs every three to five years.


The cranberry bogs can last a lifetime if well maintained. However, the vines grow in straight lines and on a single stem, close to the ground. So, after several years of growth, the end of the stem, where the fruit grows, gets further and further away from the roots, which makes irrigation and fertilizers less effective for the fruit.

To overcome this, the farmers apply a fine layer of sand covering one to two centimetres of the ice. Come the spring, when the ice melts, the sand is deposited evenly on the ground and covers the part of the stem that is close to the ground. New roots grow all along the end of the stems and the part that is buried in the sand. This process is repeated every three to five years.

Cranberry bogs in Quebec are mainly designed to work on a closed circuit.


This unique feature of cranberry farming captures rain water and melted snow and directs it to a drainage basin through ditches and an underground drainage system. These drainage ditches hold all the water necessary for irrigating and flooding the bogs during the Fall harvest. It also enables the bogs to be frozen over in winter. A large percentage of water used during these stages of growing is diverted back to the drainage ditches, hence the term « closed circuit ».

Contrary to popular belief, the bogs are not flooded during the growing season. Cultivation only requires large quantities of water twice per year for flooding. The only significant water loss is due to evaporation and perspiration of the cranberry shrubs.

When it rains too much, the drainage ditches overflow, which forces growers to let the water flow into nearby streams. In response to studies regarding the pollutant load in wastewater, growers have, in recent years, made sure that they can store water on the farm during periods of fertilization and pesticide use. Therefore, these products are degraded and deposited on site rather than being discarded with the surplus water. The environmental impact of these farms is therefore minimal.

Cranberries, like other fruit trees, are perennials


Once planted, a cranberry bed has an almost eternal life if well maintained. The shrub is a creeper and needs pruning to sustain leaf density and healthy stems, which in turn promotes bigger fruit that is redder and free from decay.

Although the cranberry is native to Quebec, the new spring shoots and the fruit are sensitive to the freezing temperatures of our climate.


Under natural conditions, the shrub survives freezing periods but produces little or no fruit at all thereafter. Growers must therefore equip their beds with a sprinkler system, which protects the vines by lightly spraying water at night when temperatures reach freezing.

These protective measures vary in frequency and intensity depending on the season, going from virtually nil, to over 40 interventions during harsher winters.

Ripe fruit can tolerate temperatures down to -5°C without suffering any ill effects. Thanks to the build-up of sugar, which lowers its freezing point.

Growers have access to charts, which enable them to start the protection methods at the best time. Indeed, the cold helps the cranberry to develop its characteristic color. It is therefore unadvisable to start the procedure too early so that the fruit gains a beautiful red color. Moreover, less time spent irrigating represents energy saving, which is good for the environment.

The biggest threat for cranberry vines is the caterpillar.


From the beginning of May a technical support club, which consists of farmers specialised in cranberry growing, starts checking for caterpillars. Using nets, traps and visual observations, they can accurately determine the degree of infestation of each bog and therefore give advice pertinent to each case. The quantity of pesticides used is therefore reduced on many farms where pest infestation is low.

Cranberry farms in Quebec are designed to enable fertilizers to be applied at any time without damaging the vines.


An elevated embankment is placed at the edge of each field of an average size of one to three hectares and enables fertilizers to be applied without harming the vines, and for the bogs to be flooded. The cranberry is not a greedy plant but needs a strict fertilizing schedule. Unlike most plants, which are given, one or two doses of nitrogen to encourage growth, cranberry growers often split these doses into four or five treatments. What’s more, the total quantity of nitrogen applied is generally half of that applied to corn crops, for example.

Why is this so?

If cranberry vines are given too much fertilizer, they will cease to produce fruit and favor foliage growth instead. In mild weather conditions, the cranberry vine does not have the urge to reproduce to save its species. It is therefore necessary to simulate poor and difficult conditions to stimulate reproduction by the production of fruit. The same phenomenon occurs with water supply. If the plant is over-watered it will produce less fruit, whereas in dry conditions it will produce to full potential.

An area of one square metre planted with cranberries can count up to 10000 flowers


An average farm of 30 hectares counts 3 billion flowers. Quebec growers prefer honeybees to pollinate their flowers. They therefore provide an average of five hives per hectare. Each hive houses approximately 40 000 bees, therefore 6 million bees will pollinate the plants. Each bee will need to visit 500 flowers within a three-week period.

Growers do not need to water the cranberries a lot in order to encourage fruit production.


Studies show that bogs that retained water well had a lower fruit production, which convinced the majority of growers to use equipment to check humidity levels in the soil themselves. As the vine is left to grow in dryland soil that can quickly become too dry and make the plant wilt, soil conditions must be diligently monitored.

The amount of flowers during the growing season depends on the quality of the bud formation of the previous year.


Indeed, following a period of intense growth of fruit, the plant initiates the formation of buds that will bloom the following year. Bud formation is encouraged by relatively dry, hot conditions with little fertilizer. Seasons with such conditions are a sign that crops will be good the following year.

Cranberry growing necessitates a large infrastructure of ditches, drains, embankments, lakes and pathways, as well as specialist machinery that is exclusive to this cultivation.


Drain outputs are cleaned. Ditches are cleared of debris and weeds that have accumulated. Machinery is inspected and serviced, ready for their next use.

Fruit d’Or offers its growers an appraisal service to assess their performance one month before harvest in October.


This approach enables growers to plan for expected volumes and necessary staff. Fruit d’Or is able to predict grower’s total volumes and consequently plan for the necessary equipment and storage space required to store the cranberries in the freezer.

Cranberry harvesting is arguably the most well-known and spectacular step in the production.


At harvest, the fields are flooded with the water accumulated in reservoirs on the farms. The first stage consists in flooding the bogs to create a layer of water about 20 centimeters deep. A combine harvester is then used to pick the fruit from the shrubs. Then, several inches of more water is added so that the cranberries become completely detached from the branches and can float away. This is when growers start gathering the cranberries before moving the water into the next field, to be harvested in turn. This approach enables water to be recycled and to save what is stocked in the reservoirs.

Threshing probably isn’t as apt an expression as it used to be.


Approximately five years ago, the threshing machine was actually the only machinery used to separate the branches (peduncle) between the stems and the cranberries. This threshing machine has rollers that thrash the stems, which have been raised by the fruit still attached, whilst trying to float. Once they are detached from the vines, the cranberries float. Thanks to four air-filled cavities within them thus avoiding the fruit from being crushed by the tires of the machinery.

The disadvantage of this threshing machine is its lack of speed. It needs to be operated by one full-time person in order to fulfil the other stages of the harvest, whereas new machines, simply consisting of metal bars that are installed parallel to the surface of the flooded soil, pick the cranberries just as easily, but four times faster.

Once the cranberries have been picked from the vines by the threshing machine, water is added until the level is just above the vines and the fruit begins to drift.


At this point, the cranberries are retained by booms, which are used to direct them to a pump that sucks the fruit onto transport trucks. This technique enables growers to harvest 100,000 kilograms of cranberries per day on average, with a team of six to eight people. To gather the same quantity with fruit-pickers, you would probably need about 500 pickers per day and back pain would gradually make them less and less efficient. This explains why the afore-mentioned technique is now standard.

Once the fruit is on the trucks, Fruit d’Or takes over.


We send our trucks to one of our four cleaning stations. These cleaning stations are strategically placed so that the fruit will not have to travel more than 13km on average to be cleaned. At these stations, we collect the fruit from each grower separately to ensure total traceability. All debris and sub-standard fruit are removed from the cranberries during various stages of mechanical selection.

The cranberries are then placed in containers, which hold up to 500kg of fruit each and they are placed in the freezer where they await to be processed into dried cranberries, juice, powder, puree or concentrate.