Become a Contributor

How to Harvest Cranberries

How to Harvest Cranberries

Have you ever given a thought to how cranberries are harvested when you drink that delicious juice that they give us? Well, this article will tell you how it's done, so you can add that bit of information to your knowledge bank.
Sujata Iyer
Wet Harvesting Method of Cranberries
Cranberries are one of the most widely used berries. They are used in culinary endeavors, in treating medical conditions and also in various cosmetic products. Delicious to eat, adorable to look at and very healthy when ingested in any form, these little red berries go through a lot of processes before they make it to the 'fresh produce' aisle in your supermarket. Growing cranberries is not a difficult process when you're trying for a lone plant in your backyard. But when grown in huge fields that provide us with the berries, there's a lot that goes into it. Apart from growing them, harvesting them is another process that is quite unique and interesting. And that's exactly what this Gardenerdy article will tell you how to harvest them. So just read ahead and get acquainted with the intriguing procedures involved.

Methods of Harvesting Cranberries

When it comes to harvesting cranberries there are two most widely used methods: the dry method and the wet method. Both have been explained below. But first, we must know when they are harvested, right? Well, autumn is the season in which cranberries are totally ripe, with their splendid color and are ready to be harvested. This is around mid-November. They have a healthy color at this time and also have the best flavor this time around. So, now that we know when they are harvested, let's get to the actual methods.

Wet Harvesting Method
This is a more popular and frequently used method of harvesting cranberries. What is done in this method, is explained in the points given below.
  • At the onset of autumn the fields are checked to see if the berries are ripe enough to be picked.
  • When the time for the harvest is decided, the field or the 'bog' as it is called, is filled with water the night before.
  • This water reaches anywhere between 15 to 18 inches and is left overnight.
  • Why is this done? Cranberries have tiny air pockets in them. So, when the bogs are filled with water, the berries get pushed up to the surface of the water due to these air pockets.
  • In the morning, all these berries that are floating on the surface of the water are collected using harvesters that have cylinder shaped spools in the front.
  • They are all collected, packed up in trucks and sent to the processing plants for testing and segregation.
  • After the berries are tested, they are sent to the various plants where they get converted into the various cranberry products that we use in our daily lives.
Dry Harvesting Method
The second method of harvesting cranberries is the dry method. It's a fairly fundamental method of harvesting the berries. Here's what it is like.
  • During autumn the fields are gauged to see how ripe the berries are.
  • When they are ready to be harvested, big machines are used to do it, mostly during the day.
  • These machines resemble lawn mowers, but only they are much larger compared to them and have sacks at their backs. These machines go through the field and with the help of the teeth-like instruments pluck off all the berries from the vines in the fields and fill them in the sacks.
  • Yes, this is a very simple method of harvesting. However, using this machine ensures lesser physical damage to the berries. After being harvested, the berries are sent for testing and are also segregated according to whether they are damaged or not.
  • Berries that are sent to the supermarkets to be sold in their whole form are generally harvested using the dry harvesting method.
Another interesting tidbit is that they test the cranberries according to the level of bounce that they exhibit. If they bounce well, they are fresh and ripe berries, and if they do not bounce, they are overripe and are better discarded. Well, now you know how cranberries are harvested and also how they are sorted! What are you waiting for? Go ahead and share the knowledge!