It’s autumn! It’s harvest! It’s beautiful!

Sep 23, 2015 | 2 comments

 

Harvest Time at CranMac!

Harvest Time at CranMac Farm!

Cranberry harvest began day before yesterday here on the Peninsula – two days ahead of autumn’s arrival and earlier than I ever remember it. Some new berry varieties, a dry summer, water scarcity and incentives from Ocean Spray all combined to say “the time is ripe… and so are the berries!”

Most of the cranberry farmers on the Peninsula do a ‘wet’ harvest – that is they flood the bogs with water and then shake the berries off the vines with gigantic water reels nicknamed “egg beaters.” The berries float and can then be corralled together, loaded into trucks and taken to the Ocean Spray building on Sandridge Road where they are weighed, measured, graded and sent off to processing plants to become the familiar Ocean Spray products we see on our grocery shelves.

Cranberry Harvest at the Nelson Bog, 1930s

Cranberry Harvest at the Nelson Bog, 1930s

As far as I know, only one or two cranberry growers do a ‘dry’ harvest. Those berries are the ones that you see bagged and sold fresh in the produce departments. It seems to me that most of the cranberries we used in my childhood were fresh and all the women of the family had their favorite recipe for making cranberry sauce. And, of course, there were always enough berries left to string for the Christmas tree.

In those ‘olden days’ all the cranberries on the Peninsula were dry harvested. Alexander Holman and his bog across from the Oysterville Store became famous in 1918 when the yield of 208 barrels per acre was the best in the area. That was before my time, but I do remember Charlie Nelson’s bog just off Joe John’s road. Even after wet harvesting began in earnest on the Peninsula in the late forties, Charlie continued in the traditional manner. It wasn’t until Clyde and Bonnie Sayce bought the bog that they ‘went wet’ at the end of the 1979 season.

Traditional Cranberry Scoop

Traditional Cranberry Scoop

Years ago, when I needed some vines and berries to decorate banquet tables for a state-wide convention of the Daughters of the Pioneers, I was loaned a traditional wooden scoop by Guy Glenn and told “help yourself.” Maybe if I’d known what I was doing, it wouldn’t have been such hard work… but I doubt it. I harvested my berries and came away with a great appreciation for cranberry growers whether they harvest wet or dry. I wish them all a good harvest with hopes that it’s as bountiful as it is beautiful!

2 Comments

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    One of our most interesting days was spent at the Cranberry research station watching the harvest and seeing he pictures and exhibits.

    Reply
  2. Nancy Russell Stone

    “C” is for Cranberry!

    Reply

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