How do you Dry Harvest Cranberries?

Our Dry Harvesters, one a “Western” brand and the other a “Eastern” brand are self propelled harvesters that comb through the vines, which plucks off the fruit which is then is then conveyed up into a burlap bag on the back of the harvester. As bags as filled, the operator stops the machine, removes the full bag, leaving it on the bog to be picked up by another harvest team member and transported by tractor or wagon to the pre-sorting and bin filling station.

The harvester also acts as a pruner, and depending upon vine growth and height, horizontal reciprocating knives (as on a sickle bar mower) cut off extra long vines. These vines also go into the burlap sack with the berries.  Next, at the pre-sorting station, the vines and berries are separated, with the berries going into bins that hold 300 pounds, destined for refrigerated storage prior to final sorting and packaging.

The vines must be completely dry to dry harvest. The harvest window for our Scarlet Knight variety is ~September 20th to ~October 10th. Rain obviously prevents harvest, but during the fall season, temperature swings and humidity changes that cause morning dew is usually what delays harvest until the vines and berries dry off by mid to late morning.

Dry harvested cranberries are generally treated more tenderly then a wet harvest. Wet harvest berries are ‘beaten’ off the vines by Water reels, then float and are coralled on the flooded bog. They are then pumped or lifted by conveyor into a truck to transport them to the processing facility. Idlyyic photos like the one below of our 2018 emergency wet harvest below due to excessive rainfall is what most people picture as the cranberry harvest. True, because over 95% of crtanberries are harvested via the wet method.

Dry Harvest berries represent the fruit that is sold as fresh fruit at farmer’s markets, road-side stands and grocery store shelves. They are treated more gently, so have less bruising, and are less likely to have decay occur in cold storage because they have not been moved through a high volume of water.