The cranberry harvest takes place once a year from mid-September through early November. There are two methods of harvesting cranberries.
Dry harvesting uses walk-behind machines to comb the berries off the vines into burlap bags. Berries are then removed from the bogs by either bog vehicles or helicopters. The fruit is delivered to fresh fruit 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. These cranberries are most often used for cooking and baking. Click here to learn more about dry harvesting.
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 removal of fruit from the vines. Water reels, nicknamed “egg-beaters” 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. Wooden or 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 cleaning. More than 90% of the crop is wet harvested. Wet harvested cranberries are used for juices, sauces, sweetened dried cranberries, ingredients in other processed foods or in nutraceutical products.
Water is applied through the sprinkler system to protect the ripening cranberries from freezing. This can occur anytime the temperature drops below damaging levels, usually between late evening and early morning hours. See the Fall Frost page for more photos of frost protection.
Ditches are necessary for the flooding and drainage of a bog. The network of ditches must be kept free flowing. Ditch cleaning is usually done in the spring and fall by hand or a mini-excavator. The mud piles are removed by either a bog vehicle or helicopter.