The methods used in harvesting cranberries depend on the how you will use them. There are two types of harvesting methods-wet and dry. When utilizing both methods, wet harvesting comes before dry harvesting. Wet harvesting is the method of harvesting mainly used by farmers; however, if you have a bog garden, you can harvest your cranberries using this method. Dry harvesting, although used by farmers after wet harvesting, is the main method used by home gardeners.
When to harvest:
The best time to harvest cranberries is during the fall season, from the middle of September to middle of November.
Use wet harvesting if you will process cranberries immediately. Each cranberry bed must have liberal amounts of water supply for irrigation and, especially, for flooding. Prior to harvesting cranberries, it is necessary to flood the fields first. The vines bearing the cranberries will rise as the water rises. The raised water will aid in loosening up the fruits from the vines.
Growers flood their bogs, which are soft, marshy parcels of land, more likely similar to wetlands, where cranberries grow favorably. You will find most of these bogs in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and parts of British Columbia and Quebec. In fact, some people had a wrong notion that cranberries grow under water because they fill the bogs during wet harvesting. Wet harvesting begins during the night before the actual harvesting.
Use harvesting machines to loosen the cranberries from the vines. With the aid of tiny air pockets at the center of these bogs, the loosened cranberries float to the water’s surface, which is a sign that they are ripe. The floating, ripe are herded together in a ring.
Growers enclose the berries so that conveyors tailor-fitted to lift them from the bogs will carry the berries into container trucks. These trucks will then transport the harvested berries to the processing plants.
Bogs are highly fragile organic habitats that helicopters are sometimes used by farmers to transfer the berries for added protection. For assured quality, the fruits must pass the color and bounce test. Soft berries that do not bounce fail the test; therefore, fail the test.
While most cranberries are harvested wet, the remaining cranberries are harvested dry. In most cases, mechanical pickers, or manually pushed machines, aid in dry harvesting. The lawn mower-like machines bear conveyor belts that comb and pick the cranberries. Shuffle the fruits over to burlap bags attached to the said contraptions. Empty the bags containing the berries into the bins mechanically. Make sure to keep your harvested cranberries in a dry, cool place.
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