Cranberry Harvesting

Looking down into a cranberry bog.

Cranberries grow on low lying vines planted in bogs composed of peat soil topped with a layer of sand.  After planting, the first crop is ready for harvesting in 3-4 years. They are harvested in the fall from mid-September until mid-November. A closeup of a cranberry bog ready for harvest is shown above. There is a closely grown mat of green vines and red berries.

Most of these cranberry postcards were published from the mid-1950s until the 1970s, so some of the information and views  shown are outdated. The majority are from Massachusetts, the state that was formerly the largest cranberry producer. Wisconsin has been the leading producer since 1995.  Approximate current percentages of cranberry production by state are Wisconsin 63%, Massachusetts 24%, New Jersey 7%, Oregon 4%, and Washington 2%.

Sign ar Edaville Station — Edaville, So. Carver, Mass.

There are two methods of harvesting cranberries: wet and dry. Dry harvested cranberries are sold as fresh fruit and are most often used for cooking and baking. Dry harvesting formerly used hand held scoops like the ones shown below on the next postcards. The N.C.A. letters on the crates stand for National Cranberry Association.

Frosty September nights and Indian Summer days color the cranberry to a rich, ruby red and the cranberry harvest is on, scooping from the low-lying vines in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Washington, and Oregon. Circa 1950s.

Cranberry bog at picking time, Cape Cod, Mass. Originally published 1954.

Harvesting cranberries on Cape Cod. (when Massachusetts produced about 50% of the national cranberry crop.

Cranberry picking time, Cape Cod, Mass.

The next postcard has a handwritten “Cape Cod Christmas Carol” (to the tune of O Christmas Tree) on the back:

O Cranber-Ree, O Cranber-Ree
All gourmets, they know ya
O Cranber-Ree, O Cranber-Ree
To think dear Cape Cod grows ya.
The finest fruit twas ever grown
Yes, you deserve a heavenly throne.
O Cranber-Ree, O Cranber-Ree
Thy taste is just Ambrosia

Cranberry harvesting on Cape Cod.

Picking Cranberries on Cape Cod. postmarked 1968

A typical “Cape Cod” Bog with pump house which is used when flooding is necessary. The old fashioned SCOOP as shown has now been replaced by a mechanical picker.

The next postcard shows both the older and newer methods of dry harvesting. The newer method uses  mechanical pickers resembling lawnmowers to comb the berries off the vines.

Replacing the picturesque wooden hand scoop are various types of mechanical picking machines.

Cranberry harvesting on Cape Cod with a mechanical cranberry picking machines.

Cranberry harvesting in Northern Wisconsin.

Wet harvesting is used for the majority of the cranberries. Wet harvested cranberries are used for juices, sauces, sweetened dried cranberries, and ingredients in processed foods. The bogs are flooded with water and  water reels, nicknamed “egg beaters”, are used to stir up water and loosen the cranberries from the vine. Cranberries have air pockets inside  which allow the berries to float to the surface of the water. The floating berries are then rounded up  with a boom

Wet cranberry harvesting on Cape Cod, Massachusett

Wet cranberry harvesting in northern Wisconsin. In this scene the water reel picks the fresh berries from the vines.

Wet cranberry harvesting in Washington state. Berries are loaded on trucks by conveyor for transportation to processing plant near Long Beach, Wash.

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About postcardy

I am a longtime postcard collector who has been creating websites and blogs based on my postcard collection since 1998.
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