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From Bog to Table: The Complete Guide to Growing Cranberries

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Are you ready to become the envy of all your gardening friends and enjoy the sweet-tart taste of your own fresh cranberries? Look no further than this complete guide to growing your own cranberry plants. From choosing the perfect location to harvesting your bountiful crop, we’ve got you covered every step of the way. Start planning now for a delicious harvest in the seasons to come.

Benefits of Growing Your Own Cranberries

Here are some of the benefits of growing cranberries at home:


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  • Fresh, organic berries for consumption
  • Opportunity to experiment with cranberry-based recipes
  • Potential savings on grocery bills from not having to purchase cranberries
  • Satisfaction and pride from growing a healthy plant
  • Opportunity to learn about the cultivation of cranberries and other plants
  • Potential for a hobby or new interest in gardening

General Information About Cranberries

Plant Family: Ericaceae (heath family)
Plant Latin Name: Vaccinium oxycoccos (European cranberry) or Vaccinium macrocarpon (American cranberry)

Plant Variations Available

Cranberries are a fascinating fruit that come in a variety of forms, each with its own unique set of characteristics. Let’s take a closer look at the different variations of this tart and refreshing fruit.

1. Fresh Cranberries: These are the most common form of cranberries and can be found in grocery stores during the fall and winter months. They are bright red and fairly hard, with a tart flavor that is perfect for making cranberry sauce, jams, and muffins.

2. Dried Cranberries: These are fresh cranberries that have been dehydrated and can be enjoyed as a snack on their own or added to baked goods or salads. They are chewy and have a bit of sweetness added to their tart flavor.


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3. Frozen Cranberries: These are fresh cranberries that have been flash-frozen and can be found in the frozen section of most grocery stores year-round. They are a great option for making cranberry sauce or smoothies.

4. Cranberry Juice: This is a popular drink that is made from cranberries that have been juiced and filtered, with sugar added to taste. It is often used as a mixer for cocktails or enjoyed on its own for its health benefits.

5. Cranberry Supplements: These are supplements that contain concentrated amounts of cranberry extract, which can help promote urinary tract health and prevent infections. They come in various forms, such as capsules or gummies.

No matter which form of cranberries you choose, they offer numerous health benefits due to their high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. So go ahead and enjoy some cranberries today!

Germinating Cranberries

Preferred Zones

Cranberries are a type of fruit that thrives in specific regions known for their acidic soil and moist growing conditions. As a result, it’s crucial to find the ideal zone for outdoor cultivation for the best chance of success.

One of the best zones for growing cranberries is the northeastern region of the United States. Specifically, the areas of Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon are ideal because they offer the perfect soil composition with the right amount of rainfall and temperatures for cranberry plants.

In the northeastern region, cranberry plants can thrive in a variety of soils, including mineral-rich sandy loam, peaty soil, and loamy soil mixed with sand. These soil types offer the perfect balance of acidity and moisture retention that cranberry plants need.

Additionally, cranberries require an ample amount of water to grow. They are typically grown in bogs flooded with water to ensure adequate hydration. This is why areas with high rainfall, such as the Pacific Northwest, are also ideal locations for outdoor cranberry growing.

Cranberries also require specific temperature ranges for optimal growth. Ideally, the temperature should remain between 50- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. The northeastern region typically experiences these favorable temperatures, allowing for healthy cranberry growth.

All in all, if you’re looking to grow cranberries outdoors, the northeastern region of the United States, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon, are the best zones for cranberry cultivation. With the right soil, water, and temperature conditions, your cranberry plants should thrive and produce a bountiful harvest.

Sowing Instructions

When it comes to sowing cranberries, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First and foremost, it’s important to choose the right soil. Cranberries prefer acidic soil with a pH between 4.0 and 5.5, so be sure to test your soil before getting started. If your soil isn’t acidic enough, you can adjust the pH by adding sulfur to the soil.

Once you have the right soil, you’ll need to prepare the bed. Cranberries grow best in beds that are raised above the surrounding ground, so be sure to build up the soil to create a raised bed. You can also line the bed with plastic or another type of barrier to prevent weeds from infiltrating the area.


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When it comes to sowing cranberries, you can either use seeds or cuttings. Seeds take longer to germinate, but they are a good option if you want to grow a lot of plants. Cuttings, on the other hand, will produce a plant more quickly, but you’ll need to make sure each cutting has at least one bud.

To sow cranberry seeds, you’ll want to fill seed trays or small pots with your acidic soil mix. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and keep the soil moist. Cranberry seeds can take 14 to 30 days to germinate, so be patient!

If you’re using cuttings, you’ll want to plant them in the prepared bed in the spring, after the last frost. Make sure each cutting has at least one bud and plant them about 6 inches apart.

Once your cranberry plants are in the ground, be sure to keep them well-watered and weed-free. Cranberries require a lot of moisture, so be sure to water them regularly. You can also add a layer of mulch around each plant to help retain moisture and prevent weeds from growing.

With the right soil, preparation, and care, you can successfully sow delicious and nutritious cranberry plants in your own backyard!

Preparation Advice

If you’re thinking of growing cranberries, congratulations! These tart, red fruits are not only delicious, but full of health benefits as well. But before you start digging up soil and planting seeds, it’s important to have the right methods and equipment in place to ensure your cranberry plants thrive.


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One key piece of equipment you’ll need is a unique soil mix specific to cranberry growth. Cranberries require highly acidic soil, ideally between pH 4.0 and 5.5. So, consider adding peat moss, vermiculite and sand to your soil. These components will ensure optimal drainage and aeration, allowing your plants’ roots to spread more easily.

Another vital component for growing cranberries is water management. Cranberry plants need a lot of water, but at the same time, they cannot tolerate waterlogging. Therefore, drip irrigation is an excellent option that provides just the right amount of water without saturating the soil. And, if you live in an area with low rainfall, you should consider investing in a high-quality sprinkler system, which can ensure consistent moisture of the plant.

Additionally, cranberries thrive with proper pruning and fertilization. It’s best to use a slow-release, 20-10-10 fertilizer, as this type of fertilizer provides the necessary nutrients through an extended period. When it comes to pruning, it’s best to prune the plants in the winter to get your cranberries ready for the next harvest year.

One last consideration for growing cranberries is disease management. Cranberry plants are vulnerable to certain fungal diseases and pests, including fruit rot and scale insects. Therefore, it’s important to spray them with fungicides and pesticides, as needed, to ward off these types of infections.


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In conclusion, growing cranberries requires specific methods and equipment to ensure that you get healthy, juicy fruits. By following the tips mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to producing the perfect cranberry crop. With the right equipment, soil, irrigation, fertilization, pruning, and disease management, your plants will thrive, producing a bounty of red fruits for years to come.

Germination Tools and Equipment

To successfully germinate healthy cranberries, there are a few essential tools and equipment you will need. By taking the time to set up your equipment properly, you can increase your chances of germination success and efficiently grow these delicious berries.

1. A suitable growing environment: Cranberries prefer acidic soil that is consistently moist, with a pH level of about 4.0-5.5. Ensure the soil has proper drainage to prevent waterlogging and keep the area weed-free.

2. High-quality cranberry seeds: Select seeds from a reputable source that provides fresh, non-GMO seeds that are well suited to your growing region. Check to see if the seeds have been stratified, a process that simulates the cold winter months before planting, which encourages better germination rates.

3. Germination trays: Using specially designed seed trays allows for an even distribution of seeds and promotes consistent germination. Consider using trays that have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging and a clear lid to help retain moisture.

4. Watering can or spray bottle: The seeds need to be kept moist at all times. A watering can or spray bottle can offer a gentle stream of water that doesn’t disturb the seeds.

5. Fertilizers: It’s essential to use a suitable fertilizer that is high in nitrogen to ensure the best possible growth. Look for a slow-release formula that will distribute the nutrients evenly over time.


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6. Grow lights: Cranberries require a minimum of six to eight hours of light each day, even while germinating. Seedlings will need to be kept under artificial lighting until they are big enough to withstand direct sunlight.

7. Fans or ventilation: Ensure that there is plenty of air circulation to prevent the accumulation of moisture, which can cause fungal growth and disease.

By having access to these tools and equipment, you will set yourself up for success when it comes to growing healthy cranberries from seed. With patience, care, and attention to detail, you can look forward to a bountiful harvest of these sweet and tart delights.

Growing Cranberries

Light Requirements

When it comes to growing healthy cranberries, adequate lighting is absolutely essential. These plants require full sunlight for at least six hours a day in order to thrive, so it’s important to choose a location that gets plenty of sunlight.

However, it’s also important to note that cranberries are sensitive to intense heat and drought. They prefer cool, moist conditions, so it’s important to find a balance between adequate sunlight and the right temperature and moisture levels.

If you’re growing cranberries indoors, you’ll need adequate artificial lighting to mimic natural sunlight. LED grow lights are a great choice, as they are energy-efficient and provide the right spectrum of light for healthy plant growth. Hang them about six inches above the plants, and adjust the height as the plants grow taller.


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Overall, whether you’re growing cranberries indoors or outdoors, it’s crucial to provide them with the right amount and type of light to ensure they grow healthy and strong. With the right lighting and environmental conditions, you’ll be able to enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious, nutritious cranberries!

Temperature Requirements

Cranberries are a unique fruit that requires cool temperatures to grow and thrive. In fact, they flourish in cooler regions of North America, such as the upper Midwest, Northeast, and Canada.

Cranberries are considered a cold-hardy crop, meaning they can survive and grow in temperatures as low as -40°F (-40°C), which is quite impressive! However, they prefer daytime temperatures between 65-75°F (18-23°C) during the growing season.

One reason why cranberries do so well in cooler temperatures is because they require a significant amount of “chill hours” during the winter months. Chill hours are the number of hours during which temperatures are between 32-45°F (0-7°C). These hours allow the plants to go into a dormant state, which prepares them for the growing season ahead.


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As the temperatures rise in the spring and summer, cranberry plants begin to produce flowers, which will eventually turn into fruit. During this time, the ideal temperature for cranberries is between 60-80°F (15-27°C).

It’s important to note that cranberries are also sensitive to extreme heat and drought conditions. If the temperatures consistently exceed 90°F (32°C) during the growing season, the plants may start to experience stress and damage. It’s crucial to keep the plants properly irrigated and protected from the sun during peak heat.

In summary, cranberries thrive in cooler temperatures, with daytime temperatures between 65-75°F (18-23°C) during the growing season. The plants require a significant amount of chill hours during the winter months and are sensitive to extreme heat and drought conditions. With proper care and attention, you can grow healthy, delicious cranberries in your own backyard!

My Favorite Tools For Growing Cranberries

Cranberries are a versatile and nutritious fruit that can be used in a variety of recipes, from sauces and juices to salads and baked goods. To ensure that your cranberries stay fresh and healthy, it’s important to have the right tools and equipment on hand.

First and foremost, a good quality cooling rack is essential for storing your cranberries. This will allow air to circulate around the berries, which will help to prevent spoilage and extend their shelf life. You can also store cranberries in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, depending on the ripeness of the berries.

A high-quality food processor or blender is also an important tool for processing cranberries. To make a tasty cranberry sauce, simply blend fresh cranberries with a sweetener of your choice, such as honey or maple syrup. You can also blend cranberries into smoothies or juices for a healthy and refreshing drink.

Another useful tool for cranberry lovers is a quality juicer. Fresh cranberry juice is a great source of vitamins and antioxidants, and can provide a number of health benefits. Drinking cranberry juice regularly has been linked to a reduced risk of urinary tract infections, as well as improved heart health and digestion.

In conclusion, whether you’re a fan of fresh cranberries or prefer them in sauce or juice form, having the right tools and equipment on hand is key to enjoying these delicious and nutritious berries to the fullest. With a well-stocked kitchen and a little creativity, you can create a variety of healthy and flavorful dishes using cranberries.

Preferred Soil Type

Cranberries are a tart, juicy fruit that are beloved by many. Growing cranberries can be a rewarding endeavor, but it’s important to ensure that you provide your plants with the right soil conditions.


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Cranberries thrive in acidic soil that has a pH between 4.0 and 5.5. They also require well-draining soil that is high in organic matter. Additionally, cranberries prefer soils that have tannin, which is commonly found in peat bogs.

If you’re planning on growing cranberries, you may need to amend your soil to provide the right conditions. Adding sulfur can help to lower the pH, while incorporating peat moss or other organic matter can help to improve drainage and add tannin.

It’s also important to note that cranberries are a unique crop because they grow in low, wet areas called bogs. If you’re planning on growing cranberries, you may want to consider creating a bog-like environment by providing adequate irrigation and drainage.

Overall, growing healthy cranberries requires attention to soil pH, drainage, and organic matter. With the right conditions, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious, tart cranberries.

Watering Requirements

Cranberry plants have unique watering needs that can greatly impact their overall health and yield. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Consistent Moisture: Cranberries need constant moisture, but not too much. Ideally, they should be watered enough to keep the soil consistently moist, but not saturated. This means using a watering method that provides slow, even moisture like a soaker hose or drip irrigation system. Err on the side of caution, as cranberries can be prone to rot if they get too much water.

2. Avoid Drought Stress: Cranberries are much happier with too much water than too little. They need a steady supply of water to avoid drought stress, which can cause stunted growth, poor fruit production, and even death. Keep your cranberry bed free of weeds and other plants that might compete for water, and make sure the soil is well-draining to prevent water from accumulating and causing root rot.

3. Moderate Fertilization: While cranberries need consistent moisture, they should not be constantly saturated with nutrient-rich water. Fertilizing your cranberry bed with a slow-release fertilizer that’s appropriate for acid-loving plants can help promote healthy growth without over-fertilizing. Keep in mind that over-fertilization can lead to excessive growth, increased susceptibility to disease, and a decrease in the quality and quantity of cranberries produced.

4. Timing Matters: The timing of your watering can also impact your cranberry crop. During the growing season, make sure to water your cranberry plants regularly, especially during hot, dry weather. However, you’ll need to reduce watering as the plants near harvest time. This helps to concentrate the sugars in the berries and improve their overall flavor.

In summary, consistent moisture is key to successful cranberry growing. Keep the soil consistently moist, but be careful not to over-water. And don’t forget the importance of timing, as watering requirements can vary throughout the growing season. Happy growing!

What You Need To Know About Fertilizing Cranberries

Cranberries are a tart, delicious fruit that can be enjoyed in many ways. If you’re looking to grow your own cranberries, it’s important to understand their fertilizing requirements.

First, it’s important to know that cranberries prefer acidic soil with a pH between 4.0 and 5.5. If your soil is too alkaline, you may need to amend it with sulfur to lower the pH.

When it comes to fertilizing, cranberries have specific needs. They require a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus fertilizer. This is because too much nitrogen can lead to excessive vegetative growth, which can make the plant more susceptible to disease and reduce yield.

Ideally, you should fertilize your cranberries in the spring and fall. In the spring, apply a balanced fertilizer with a 1:1:1 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. In the fall, switch to a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus fertilizer with a 0:20:0 ratio.

It’s also important to apply the fertilizer evenly and avoid getting it on the leaves or stems, which can burn the plant. Use a broadcast spreader and water thoroughly after applying the fertilizer.

In addition to fertilizing, cranberries also require regular irrigation, especially during the growing season. They prefer well-draining soil that is consistently moist but not waterlogged.


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By following these fertilizing and irrigation guidelines, you can help ensure that your cranberries remain healthy and productive year after year.

My Favorite Fertilizers For Cranberries

Cranberries are a tart and tangy fruit that requires specific nutrients for optimal growth and fruit production. When it comes to fertilizer, applying the right kind and at the right time can make all the difference.

For healthy cranberry plants, it’s best to use a slow-release, granular fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is important for leaf growth, phosphorus encourages root development, and potassium aids in fruit development and disease resistance.

One popular fertilizer for cranberries is a balanced 10-10-10 formula, which contains equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Another option is using a 16-16-16 formula, which provides a slightly higher amount of nutrients. It’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how much to apply per plant, and to avoid over-fertilizing as this can cause leaf burn and reduce fruit yield.

For best results, apply fertilizer in early spring before the growing season begins, and again in late summer or early fall after the berries have been harvested. Additionally, consider using an organic fertilizer or compost to supplement the soil with beneficial microorganisms and micronutrients.

In summary, to keep your cranberry plants healthy and productive, use a slow-release fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and apply at the appropriate times. Don’t forget to take advantage of organic options to provide your plants with additional nutrients for optimal growth and fruiting.

Harvesting Cranberries

Time To Maturity

Cranberries are a unique and flavorful fruit that can take quite some time to mature from a tiny sprout to a mature plant abundant with color and flavor.

The first step in growing cranberries is to plant the seeds. Once the seeds have been planted, it takes about 3-4 months for the cranberry plants to emerge from the soil as small sprouts.

Over the next few months, the plants will continue to develop as they grow larger leaves and begin to produce their famous bright red berries. After about 2-3 years of consistent growth and maturation, the cranberry plants should achieve their full maturity.

However, this growth process can vary depending on various factors such as weather conditions, soil quality, and how well the plants are taken care of. With the right care and attention, the cranberry plants can reach maturity sooner. On average, it takes around 3-4 years for cranberry plants to reach full maturity.

During this growth period, the cranberry plants will need consistent watering, fertilization, pruning, and protection from certain pests and diseases. By providing them with the proper care, you can help ensure a fruitful harvest and an abundance of delicious cranberries that can be enjoyed throughout the season.

Harvest Instructions

Cranberries are a unique fruit that thrive in wetlands and bogs, making them a challenge to harvest. However, their tart flavor and health benefits make them a popular ingredient in recipes around the world. If you’re interested in harvesting your own cranberries, read on for a step-by-step guide.

  1. Choose the right location: Look for a bog or wetland area that contains wild cranberries, or establish your own cranberry bed. Cranberry beds need to be on level ground and have a shallow layer of peat or other acidic soil.
  2. Wait for the right time: Cranberries are typically harvested in the fall, between September and early November, when the fruit turns a deep red color.
  3. Prepare your equipment: Before you start harvesting cranberries, you’ll need to gather some equipment. This includes a rake or berry comb, a bucket or crate to collect berries, and waders or other waterproof clothing to protect yourself from the wet conditions.
  4. Start raking: To harvest cranberries, gently rake or comb the berries off of the vines, being careful not to damage the plant. You may need to make several passes to collect all of the ripe berries.
  5. Sort and store the berries: After you’ve harvested your cranberries, sort through them to remove any debris or damaged berries. Store the fruit in a cool, dry place or freeze them for later use.

While harvesting cranberries can be challenging, the rewards are well worth the effort. Freshly picked cranberries will add a tart, tangy flavor to your favorite dishes and sauces, and a sense of accomplishment knowing that you’ve harvested them yourself.

My Favorite Tools For Harvest Time

Harvesting cranberries can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to have the right tools and equipment to make the task easier and more efficient. Here are some of the best tools and equipment you’ll need for cranberry harvesting:

  1. Hand rake – A hand rake is a must-have tool for cranberry harvesting. It’s used to gently comb through the vines and collect the berries. A good hand rake should have metal teeth and a wooden handle for durability.
  2. Harvesting bucket – You’ll need a sturdy bucket to hold your cranberries. Look for one with a comfortable handle and enough depth to hold a good amount of berries.
  3. Waders or boots – Cranberry harvesting often involves standing in water, so you’ll need a good pair of waders or boots to keep your feet dry. Look for ones that are durable and comfortable for extended wear.
  4. Pruning shears – Pruning shears can be used to trim back any overgrown vines or branches that may be blocking your path or making it difficult to harvest the berries.
  5. Harvesting crates – If you plan to harvest a large amount of cranberries, you may want to invest in some harvesting crates. These can be used to transport the berries and keep them organized for easier processing.

With these tools and equipment, you’ll be well-equipped to harvest your own cranberries and enjoy the delicious fruit all season long. Happy harvesting!

End of Season & Overwintering

As the cool autumn air settles in, it’s time to start thinking about end of season care for your cranberry plants. Properly preparing them for winter will ensure a healthy and abundant crop next year.

First, you’ll want to give your plants one final fertilizer application. This will provide them with necessary nutrients for their resting period. Be sure to use a fertilizer low in nitrogen, high in potassium and phosphorus, as this will promote root growth and help increase fruit production next season.

As the temperatures start to drop, it’s important to keep an eye on the water levels around your cranberry plants. They should be kept moderately moist as they go into dormancy. Keep drainage clear to prevent water buildup that could damage the plants.

Once the leaves have fallen, you can begin pruning your cranberry plants. Cut back any dead or diseased stems, and thin out crossing branches that may cause rubbing and damage. This will help shape the plants and increase air circulation around them, preventing overwintering fungal diseases.

During the winter months, cranberry plants do not require any additional care. They will naturally go into dormancy and lose their foliage. However, be sure to keep an eye out for any signs of deer damage or rodent activity, as they may be attracted to the fruit and can cause harm to the plants.

In the spring, as the weather warms and the days start to lengthen, it’s time to prepare your cranberry plants for a new growing season. Be sure to remove any winter protection you may have put in place, and prune any damaged growth. Once your plants have started to green up, give them one final fertilizer application to kickstart their growth for the season. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful crop of delicious cranberries year after year.

Final Thoughts on Cranberries

From understanding the basic requirements of planting cranberries to harvesting the fruits of your labor, we have provided you with a comprehensive manual on how to grow these delicious and nutritious fruits.

Now that you have learned how to properly germinate, tend, and harvest cranberries, you will be able to enjoy a bountiful harvest of this delicious fruit in your own backyard.

Remember, taking care of your cranberry plants requires patience, effort, and dedication, but the reward of seeing them grow and flourish is truly priceless.

By following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you can expect to have a successful harvest of juicy, tangy, and plump cranberries that are perfect for your favorite recipes, from pies and jams, to sauces and cocktails.

We hope that you have found this guide helpful, enjoyable, and informative, and that your cranberry plants provide you with many years of fruitful harvests. Remember to share your experience with others and spread the joys of cranberry growing!

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Cranberries

Can I grow cranberries in my backyard garden?

Yes, cranberries can be grown in a backyard garden as long as the soil is acidic, moist, and rich in organic matter. They need full sun and well-drained soil, and can be grown in raised beds or bogs. It’s also important to plant at least two varieties to ensure cross-pollination.

How long does it take for cranberry plants to mature and produce fruit?

Cranberry plants typically take three to five years to start producing fruit. Once established, they can produce berries for up to 20 years with proper care and maintenance. Harvest typically occurs in the fall, when the fruit is ripe and ready for picking.

What are some common problems that can affect cranberry plants?

Some common problems that can affect cranberry plants include fungal diseases like fruit rot and leaf spot, pests like cranberry fruitworms and sparganothis fruitworms, and nutrient deficiencies like iron chlorosis. Proper cultural practices like regular pruning, weeding, and fertilization can help prevent these problems, as well as timely applications of pest and disease control measures.

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