Every autumn (usually from mid-September until around mid-November in North America and March through May in Chile), cranberries reach their peak of color and flavor and are ready for harvesting. That's when our growers harvest millions of pounds of cranberries. If you ask us, it's really quite beautiful.
For starters, it’s where cranberries come from. But if you want to get technical, it’s an area of soft, marshy ground with acid peat soil, usually near wetlands, where the cranberries grow on long-running vines. You can find them all over North and South America, from Massachusetts to New Jersey, Oregon to Washington, Wisconsin, parts of British Columbia and Quebec, and Chile.
A lot of people think that cranberries grow under water. Makes sense, since we usually see the berries floating on top of the water. But, what we’re seeing is actually the result of 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 tiny pockets of air that allow it to float to the surface of the water. From there, they’re corralled together, loaded into trucks, and shipped off to become the Ocean Spray® products that fill your grocery aisles.
Fresh cranberries, the ones you buy in the produce aisle every fall, are harvested using the dry method. It's the best way to get the absolute freshest of berries. For this, cranberry growers use a mechanical picker that looks like a large lawnmower. It has metal teeth that comb the berries off the vine and deposit them in a burlap sack at the back of the machine. Helicopters are sometimes used to transport the sacks to protect the vines from the traffic of heavy trucks.