Harvesting Cranberry Plants

Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit from your tree, and how to store the fruit.

NOTE: This is part 11 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow cranberry plants, we recommend starting from the beginning.

When to Harvest

Your plant should start producing cranberries in 2 to 3 years. Harvest in late September to early October. They develop in large clusters making them easy to pick. When they are ready to harvest the seed turns a brownish color and the berries turn a burgundy color.

When using the berries for sauce, jelly or juice pick them slightly under-ripe. However, if you are going to eat the berries fresh then plan on picking after a frost so the berries will be soft and sweet.

The average yield per plant is approximately 1 to 1.5 pounds, but may be as many as 3 pounds depending on the maturity and establishment of the plant and a favorable environment. Cranberry plants that yield a large, bumper crop may not bear fruit the following year. To minimize biennial bearing, consider thinning the lower flowers or immature fruit from each upright fruiting stem.

Storage

The berries can be kept in the refrigerator for a short time, and may be frozen for later uses. Make sure to wash and stem the berries before freezing.

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