There may be an impending pumpkin shortage this fall, but there should be plenty of cranberries to go with your Thanksgiving turkey this year. In fact, growers are slated to produce upwards of 8.4 million barrels of cranberries in 2015, amid a lingering cranberry surplus.
"We had above-average yields on the 111 acres of cranberries managed. So we had a good year," reports Katy Yeatts, bog manager for Cherryfield Foods Inc. in Cherryfield, Maine. "We are primarily a wild blueberry farm with over 10,000 acres, but at this time of year we're deep into harvesting our cranberry bogs."
Yeatts shared some photos of this year's harvest with AgWeb. Here's what she had to say about them:
Floating cranberries on two of the bogs at Cherryfield Foods. "We flood once for harvest and then release the water after, let the bogs drain and dry for a few weeks, and then flood again for winter protection of next year's buds," says Yeatts.
Ice on the cranberries after a night of frost protection. "We can protect down to 22 degrees without damage by using sprinkler irrigation," explains Yeatts. "As the water applied to the plant cools, heat is released, preventing freeze damage. As long as a film of water is applied continuously, the plant will not freeze, even if a small layer of ice forms.
"We did have some very cold weather during harvest (18-20 degrees), so we did see some minimal fruit damage on some of the bogs harvested last. We ended up having six nights of frost protection total for harvest season."
So how, exactly, does cranberry harvest work? Despite a common misconception, cranberries grow on dry ground--not in water--but since the berries float, water is used for harvesting. The bogs are flooded, and the berries are raked off of the plants into the water. Then, using a boom, tractors corral the berries to one side of the bog. Once corralled, the berries are pumped into wagons, which take the crop to be cleaned and processed.
Take a look at this amazing video of cranberry harvest at Lake Nokomis Cranberries in Eagle River, Wis., filmed by Gopher Aerial using a drone.