Let’s face it: cranberries are one of America’s favorite fruits. You might not buy a bundle and snack on them like grapes…but we consume A LOT of cranberries. And for Ocean Spray farmers in the Northeast, harvesting enough cranberries to meet America’s demand is a huge feat.
Cranberry harvest season near Vancouver, Canada pic.twitter.com/52LmdrHRqZ
— Terrence Daniels (Captain 🍀 Planet) (@Terrence_STR) December 1, 2020
In a new report by Business Insider (and an accompanying YouTube video below), the publication investigates just how these talented farmers harvest hundreds of billions of cranberries in less than two months.
This is my bog post about cranberry harvesting. pic.twitter.com/3omtMXdmpx
— Danielle Baskin (@djbaskin) November 26, 2020
Starting in the Autumn season, these farmers work tirelessly for six weeks to harvest more than 100 billion cranberries across a vast network of bogs where the vines lay – some of which have been producing berries for more than 90 years!
In 2020, a TikTok user from Idaho, Nathan Apodaca, went viral with a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice as he skated down a road listening and singing along to Fleetwood Mac – ever since, the famous juice brand has been having a hard time keeping products in stock.
An eastern Idaho man has a new ride thanks to a viral video. Nathan Apodaca, also known as @420doggface208 on TikTok, was visited by a representative from Ocean Spray with the new ride.
— Oigetit PR (@oigetit_pr) October 7, 2020
To see how farmers harvest over 100 billion cranberries in less than two months, you’ve got to look at the process from start to finish!
Firstly, the berries grow on a vine in a bog which is a layer of sand, peat, gravel, and clay. They grow in the open air just like other berries on the vine do, but when it comes time to harvest them – they flood the bog with more than a foot of water.
“Once we add the water, the cranberries start to float on the vine. Cranberries have four pockets of air inside,” farmer Gilmore Carr explained. “The cranberries are all floating to the top, and we’re standing on top of the vines. There isn’t anything quite like the experience of standing in a bog, but it does feel like I’m being hugged by all the cranberries. I do love that.”
After the cranberries are floating, farmers use a harrow to pop them off the vine and they just sit there floating on top, ready to be scooped up and washed!
This is “wet method” cranberry harvest where the bogs are flooded and the submerged plants agitated. The berries float thanks to a pocket of air inside them- this air is also why they ‘pop’ when cooked. pic.twitter.com/G8ahi7m7ZJ
— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) November 23, 2020
From that point, the farmers will use a very heavy flexible boom to corral all the berries into one area near a pumping station.
This drone shot gives you a small sense of the beauty and scale of the cranberry harvest here in Massachusetts. These bogs are part of the Ocean Spray farmers' cooperative.#cranberries #harvest pic.twitter.com/ibdRE10uHh
— BostonCubanKid 🏗️🚜🇺🇸🇨🇺🏳️🌈🌊 (@WaterSolarWind) November 22, 2017
Next, the farmers sweep all the berries toward the pump that slowly pulls the berries from the bog and transports them to a giant truck where they go through a high-pressure wash and are then sent off to the processing facility.
This process of harvesting is not only a sustainable method that’s environmentally friendly, but it’s also quick and efficient for the farmers with the ability to harvest around 10 acres per day.
See the full video below about the cranberry harvesting process!