Weekend Window: Cranberry Country

Massachusetts houses the cradle of liberty, and is known for its ties to the American Revolution. But what many don't know is that the state also has historical links in the agricultural industry.

"The cranberry industry is Massachusetts' number one agricultural crop," said Jeff LaFleur, of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association. "This is a historic industry that is part of the area for well over 150 years. This is where the cranberry industry was born."

In fact, 27 percent of the world's cranberries come from Massachusetts.

The tasty, tart treats not only provide a fruity snack, but also a beautiful scene during the the early autumn months in New England.

"When the bog is flooded, it's the most picturesque time of the year," LaFleur said. "It's with that crystal blue water — the crimson red fruit — and you put some new England foliage behind it, and you have a picture perfect Cape Cod post card."

But the waterlogged bogs, which make for picture-perfect scenery, and easier harvesting, aren't always flooded with water.

"Ninety percent of the time, cranberry bogs are dry," said Chris Severance of A.D. Makepeace Company. "When we're getting ready to pick the crop," he said, "we'll flood the bog with that water."

"The berries naturally want to float, but they're still attached to the plant by the stem," Severance added.

After the bog is flooded, harvesters drive around and knock berries off the vines, which causes them all to float.

"We then round all the berries up using boom," Severance said. "It's a process we call corralling, and trying to get them all snug together in one place."

The harvest season for the fruit runs between six and eight weeks, and the cranberries are picked until the end of October, according to LaFleur.

"It's a whole year's worth of work coming down to this narrow period to get the crop in," he said.

"Once those berries are all gathered together, we'll get them all to a loading area, we'll put the pump truck in that location, and we'll suck all the berries off the bog, clean them, and get them in the back of tractor trailers, and off they go to the market," Severance said.

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