It’s On! The 2018 Cranberry Harvest!

Corralling Cranberries at a CranMac Bog

“Isn’t it earlier than usual this year?” I asked Malcolm McPhail.  We were standing on one of the CranMac dike roads looking out at the bogs – some of which had already been harvested and one, in the distance, flooded and waiting for the beaters to come “after lunch,” he said.  “We’re harvesting some new varieties this year,” he told us.  “They color up more quickly and Ocean Spray wants them before they get too dark.”

I guess I might have had more questions about that had I not recently written a book about cranberries on the Washington Coast for the Pacific Coast Association Research Foundation.  Getting just the right color is an important factor for members of the Ocean Spray Cooperative.  Berries are green at first and begin sizing and turning color in July and August.  Due to the cool nights near the coast, the berries get much redder and darker than in any other region.  West coast fruit is prized for its dark color and is often mixed with berries from other areas to make juice darker. This dark color, however, is less desirable for making sweetened dried cranberries since the finished product looks too much like raisins, I wrote.

Seen on the Peninsula

After we left the Malcolm and Ardell’s bogs, we drove by the Ocean Spray Plant.  There wasn’t a lot of activity just then but there were piles of huge totes stacked up and at the ready.  From another chapter in the book: Harvested berries from the Long Beach Peninsula and from northern Oregon are hauled to Ocean Spray’s Long Beach Receiving Station.  They arrive in dump trucks or in trailers loaded with totes. At the receiving station, berries are moved along a conveyor belt as leaves and weeds are removed with brushes and blowers. The berries are washed and then bounced to remove bad berries.  When the process is complete, they are loaded into totes and taken by semi-trucks to freezers in Forest Grove, Oregon to await processing.

And, in case you wondered… Although the numbers occasionally change, as of 2017 there were 1,513 acres of Ocean Spray affiliated cranberry bogs on the Washington Coast (579 wet-picked and 924 dry-picked).  In addition, 189 acres were grown by independent growers not affiliated with Ocean Spray. “Independents” must make other arrangements for their berries.

Harvest Moon Over Willapa Bay

So, now that you are armed with a few pertinent facts – take a little drive around the Peninsula in the next few days.  You are bound to see the harvest in progress – beautiful to watch and labor intensive for the growers and their crews.  It’s the make-or-break time of year for them.  We should all be clapping and cheering!  And… is your calendar marked for October 13th and 14th at the Cranberrian Fair?  I hope you’ll let me sign a book… personalized if you like, just for you!

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