Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Cranberry Harvesting Methods

As spring gives way to late spring, cranberries begin their transformation, shifting from a vibrant green to a pale white (with a touch of yellow) and eventually maturing into a vivid red as the growing season progresses.

In the second week of August, before cooler nights have a chance to coax out their red hue, fully mature white cranberries are gathered. These white berries possess a more delicate flavor compared to their red counterparts. 

The window for collecting red cranberries spans from mid-September to early November, offering a rich harvest season. Two principal approaches are employed for cranberry harvesting: the wet method and the dry method. 

Wet cranberry harvesting involves flooding the bogs with water, causing the berries to rise and float. This allows machines to efficiently shake the berries loose, collecting them from the water's surface. This technique is the prevailing choice for cranberry gathering, particularly for berries destined for juices, jellies, and dried fruit. Thanks to the air pockets within cranberries, they naturally rise to the top, streamlining the harvesting procedure. 

Conversely, the dry harvesting method foregoes flooding the bogs. Instead, specialized machinery resembling lawnmowers delicately "combs" the berries off the vines. These gathered berries are then collected on a frame. Following this, the harvested fruit is transported to fresh fruit receiving stations. Here, it undergoes meticulous grading and screening, based not only on color but also on bounce ability (as softer berries lack this characteristic). Cranberries collected through dry harvesting primarily cater to the demand of the fresh fruit market.
Cranberry Harvesting Methods

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