It’s Harvest Season!
This is the time of year that most people associate with cranberries! Our cranberry harvest typically takes place from mid-September through early November. There are two harvesting methods: wet and dry harvesting.
Dry harvesting involves using walk-behind machines to rake the berries off the vines into boxes or bags. Berries are removed from the bogs by either bog vehicles or helicopters. The fruit is delivered to special receiving stations where it is graded and screened based on color and ability to bounce (soft berries will not bounce). Dry harvested cranberries are used to supply the fresh fruit market—what’s in the plastic bags you see in your supermarket’s produce department around Thanksgiving.
Wet harvested cranberries are used for juices, sauces, sweetened dried cranberries, or as ingredients in other processed foods. Cranberries have pockets of air inside the fruit. Because of this, cranberries float in water, and thus, the bogs can be flooded to aid in the removal of fruit from the vines. Picking machines are used to stir up the water in the bogs. By this action, cranberries are dislodged from the vines and float to the surface of the water. Plastic “booms” are used to round up the berries, which are then lifted by conveyor or pumped into a truck to take them to the receiving station for additional cleaning.
The majority of our cranberries are wet harvested. As a member of the Ocean Spray Cooperative, most of our fruit is delivered to Ocean Spray’s receiving station in nearby Carver, Massachusetts. From there, the fruit is sent to one of several processing plants.
Want to view the harvest yourself? Visit the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association website for information about upcoming tours, many of which take place on Makepeace property.