Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our Cranberry Harvest...water picking

 If you are looking for cranberry recipes: Ocean Spray Cranberry recipes

Monday, we started our  cranberry  harvest season. We mostly do the cranberry harvesting by water picking now, where years ago it was so much more labor intensive and the berries were dry picked.

I wanted to share some of the photos that I took at our bog this afternoon.
My family has grown cranberries since the early 1900's here in Plymouth County, southeastern Massachusetts. The vibrant sea of floating red cranberries looks like a red carpet, and is a beautiful sight, don't you think?

Cranberry bogs aren't underwater all year long as some think.  Bogs are made on a bed of peat and sand. The vines are kept wet by irrigation systems, where once they had to be flooded for irrigation or frost nights. The bogs are divided into sections with irrigation ditches, and there are ditches that surround the bog. There are higher dikes surrounding the bog sections to keep the water in the ditches, and for use as roadways. Once the harvesting starts the guys work seven days a week, in rain, cold, sunshine or whatever the weather happens to be until all the berries from all the bogs are harvested. Harvest usually last about a month or a little more.

To get ready for the harvest flags are set out on the bog sections to flag off rows, and to mark the ditches so the machines don't end up in the ditch. The bogs are then flooded, and when the bog is covered in water, a water picker goes onto the bogs sections. A reel on the water picker beats the berries off the cranberry vines and the berries then float to the surface. There is a large reel on the front of the picker, and also a side arm reel that knocks the berries of the edges of the bogs. The berries are then corraled with large booms (rubber or wood sections) that are pulled from each end to bring the berries to one spot near shore where a suction tube siphons the berries onto a conveyor belt. The berries are constantly being pushed towards the suction tube until all the berries are off the bog. The berries go up the conveyor belt and into a waiting tractor trailer truck, and then they are brought to the local Ocean Spray cranberry plant to be processed.
bog wet picking blaine Blaine, our foreman running a wet picker. There is a reel on the front of the picker that beats the berries of the vine. The side arm reel is used for picking the berries on the edge of the bogs ditches.

bog richard wet picking1 My brother, Richard running the water picker machine in front.

bog sea of red1 berries that have been beat off the vines with the wet picking machine float to the surface waiting to be corraled.

bog sea of red4 harvested berries waiting to be corraled

 sea of red 3 more harvested berries floating on the flooded cranberry bog.

bog corraling the berries corraling the berries

bog suctioning the berries to truck1 berries suctioned off the bog with a large tube onto a conveyor belt that is in the back of this truck.

.bog to conveyor to tt from the conveyor to the waiting tractor trailer truck.bog to tractor trailer tractor trailer truck filled with the fresh picked cranberries and ready to go to Ocean Spray.

bog frog I couldn't help myself, I had to snap this photo of the big bullfrog in the bog ditch that was giving me the one big eyed stare while I stood on the bog dike checking him out. The frog is covered with dead cranberry leaves and a few berries that floated off the bog after the berries were picked. There are irrigation ditches that surround the bog  also divide the bog sections for irrigation.

this photo is a section of bog that was already harvested. The bog is a lush green from spring until after harvest. This photo shows the bog (L), ditch and dike (R)

Soon after the harvest the vines will turn from a lush green to maroon/red as the vines go dormant for the winter.
I hope you have enjoyed my photos of our harvest. If you have any questions, just ask and I will answer them for you. I have other cranberry harvest photos of wet and dry picking in my picture trail albums. Elaine's picture trail
Thanks for looking. Leave a comment as I'd love to know what you think of the photos. 

Here is the link to a later post I wrote on my blog in November 2010..step by step photos of  making cranberry sauce
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Anonymous said...

This is also a big harvesting activity here in south Jersey. Your photos are great!

Tammy D said...

This is so cool. Thanks for sharing!

Kerry said...

Oh my, I never realized how much was involved. Wonderful pictures Elaine. Hope this seasons was a good one for your family!

Patsy said...

I found you photos very interesting. Never realized it was so involved. Thanks for sharing.

Lin said...

What a fabulous seris, Elaine!!! LOVE seeing these! Hope all is well!

Annel said...

Thank you for sharing your photos I love cranberrys .

Altered Route said...

Elaine, I really enjoyed the blow-by-blow description of the process and the pictures are wonderful. Very interesting! Would love to be a wet picker for a day!

Barbara Hagerty said...

How great, Elaine! I really enjoyed reading about the harvest. Your photos are outstanding!

Autumn said...

Really neat, Elaine. Thanks for sharing this, very interesting and informative information. ;0 Oh, and LOVE that frog!!!

CathyH said...

Had to come look and see the cranberries! (from OWOH)