As my son and I were traveling around various towns and southeastern Massachusetts, in Rochester, we came across a set of cranberry bogs that were being harvested. They were using the wet method of harvesting, these cranberries will be made into juices, dried fruit, and jellies. Dry harvesting n order to pick the fresh fruit, the vines must be completely dry. Even a slight shower the night before, heavy dew, or damp conditions from a frost night is enough to delay harvest until the conditions improve on the bog. Depending on the harvest season, these conditions can provide more than enough challenges to growers.
“Today, dry harvested bogs are picked using mechanical pickers with styles named Darlington, Furford, or Western. These self-propelled harvesters all work similarly, combing through the bogs, and the fruit is then conveyed into a burlap bag or wooden box. In previous generations, wooden boxes were the collection device of choice, but today most growers utilize burlap. Once the container is full, the operator stops the machine, removes the bag and sets it on the bog, places an empty bag onto the machine, and continues harvesting. After a sufficient amount of bags have been filled, the bags are then generally transported into larger containers. Some growers carry the bags off of the bog by hand, some by tractors with trailers, while others empty the bags into large plastic bins that can hold about 300 pounds of fruit. They then stack two more containers on top of the original bin, filling each bin as they proceed. The stack of three bins is then flown off of the bog via helicopter and onto waiting flatbed trucks for delivery to the screening plant or storage barn. Wet harvesting: The bog is flooded with up to 18 inches of water the night before the berries are to be harvested. The growers then use water reels, nicknamed “eggbeaters,” to churn the water and loosen the cranberries from the vine. Each berry has a tiny pocket of air that allows it to float to the surface of the water. From there, they’re corralled together, loaded into trucks, and shipped off.”
As we watched and photographed the action, we noticed as the cranberries went into a large machine, the berries were dumped into a large trailer, and the leaves etc. were dumped into a small dump truck. Behind the bog that was being harvested, the next bog was being prepared for harvesting.
The harvest season runs from mid-September through November. If you want to photograph harvesting, you have a few weeks to find bogs that are being harvested.