It’s Cranberry Harvest Time!

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October 15, 2013

Massachusetts is the second largest cranberry producing state in the nation, second only to Wisconsin, and produces about 25 percent of the national output. In North America, 20 percent of harvested berries are eaten during Thanksgiving week. And, while that may be the case, according to Nutrition and You, cranberries are rich in phyto-nutrients (naturally derived plant compounds), particularly proanthocyanidin antioxidants, which are essential for all-round wellness. Ocean Spray, a grower-owned cooperative based in Lakeville and Middleboro, Mass., estimates this year’s global crop will range between 11.1 and 11.5 million barrels of cranberries. That’s a lot of cranberries!

Want to know more? Matthew Bernat, Editor of Sippican Week, shares the following article with Eco News Network.

Small, tart, and colorful, cranberries are big business for growers across the region as the annual harvest starts. Before cranberries wind up on your table the harvest is a straightforward, though wet, affair.
Recently, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. issued a 2013 crop projection that looks to be comparable to 2012 when the Massachusetts harvest totaled 2.12 million barrels, which was 8 percent less than in 2011 — a record-breaking year for the crop.Cran A

In Rochester (Mass.), fifth-generation cranberry grower Brad Morse began pumping berries out of some of his bogs last week. Morse tends to 600 acres of land. He’s also served as president of the Cape Cod Grower’s Association since 2010.

Morse started harvesting his crop last week in a bid to get some berries sold. With Ocean Spray projecting a good year, Morse, who is also a Selectman in Rochester, said he wanted to his produce on the market to net a good price.

The vast majority of cranberry growers use a “water harvesting” technique. On an overcast morning, an experienced crew corralled the floating berries. Morse noted some of the crew has been doing this work since he was a child.

After a bog is flooded, a harvesting machine knocks the berries loose. A hollow fruit, the berries float as the water enters.

“With this method we are able to get just about every single berry from the bog into the truck,” Morse explained.
Three men stood in water just below their knees to tighten a floating boom around the circle of berries before they were pumped from the bog into a “water reel.”

The reel, which is rented, hauls the fruit up to be separated from leaves and other natural debris. Up there, spray nozzles rinse the crop initially. Leaves are pumped into a waste truck and the cranberries fill a truck that hauls them to Carver for further processing.

There, the fruit is prepared for juices, jellies, and other products. Each truck holds about 500 barrels of berries, Morse said. And if you’ve ever driven by a bog wondering what a fresh cranberry tastes like, the answer in a word: Tart.

Cran F“That’s why we add sugar,” Morse said. According to Ocean Spray, historically 80 percent of a season’s crop is consumed in North America, with the remaining amount being shipped overseas.

The challenge for Ocean Spray is two-fold; the cooperative wants to expand global demand for cranberries and promote it as a healthful snack year-round. “As a cooperative, our mission is to market the fruit of our grower-owners.
To do that, Ocean Spray is focused on increasing demand for our great-tasting, good-for-you cranberry products through bold market expansion, development of new distribution channels,” said Randy Papadellis, president and chief executive officer of Ocean Spray.

This article was originally printed in the October 2, 2013 edition of Sippican Week.

Photos courtesy of Matthew Bernat and Sippican Week

This Thanksgiving when you reach for that cranberry sauce Eco News Network hopes you’ll remember all of the work it took to get it to your table. And maybe you’ll consider other recipes that include cranberries throughout the year.