Harvesting 2021 with a Praying Mantis

During the last week of September and first days of October 2021 we harvested the bog. Harvest was squeezed in during peak apple harvest season on our main farm operation, Bishop’s Orchards, and fair season, particularly my involvement with the CT Farm Winery booth in the Connecticut Building at the Big E Fair. 

The yield this season was considerably lower due to a combination of weather incidences and sanding the bog this spring, as noted in a previous post.

This harvest, I was assisted by Bill, Kerry and Gary. All of them were new to the experience and pitched in to get the job done in 4 days. A three person team keeps the flow with minimal backup.

With myself on the harvester, another team member running the de-chafing machine, and the third pulling the burlap sacks of cranberries off the bog to the dike road, then moving them  to the de-chafing machine with the tractor and assisting the first sort, we can get 7-8, 300 pound bins done if weather is in our favor. This year, the dew remained on the vines till very late in the morning.  Harvest cannot begin till the vines and berries are dry. 

Praying Mantis – A Killingworth Cranberry beneficial helper riding the harvester

Once again, I had a hitchhiker on the harvester several times.  Praying Mantis are prevalent in the field, and show up on the harvester, in the berries or on the burlap sacks. I’m glad to have them munch on other insects as a biological control, as I do not use any insecticides on our crop.

The color of the berries is a deep burgundy, in keeping with the name ‘Scarlet Knight’ and they will be sorted and packaged for sale starting next week. Eating them fresh at harvest takes some getting used to, as their low acid content makes one’s mouth pucker!. A very small quantity of all green berries were present. Evidently, the weather fooled some vines, and blossoms were produced in late-July, which in turn produced berries that had no hope of maturing by October. The electronic color sorter will remove them before packaging!