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Visiting Cape Cod Cranberry Bogs
at Harvesting Season

Updated: October 25, 2023

During Cape Cod cranberry harvesting season, visitors come from far and wide to see our local bogs awash with color!

Acres of floating cranberries. Farmers surrounded in a sea of red, gathering their crop. Truckloads of berries going off to market. It's fascinating to watch!

Farmer wading in a bog, corralling thousands of free-floating, bright red cranberriesHarvest Underway at a Cape Cod Cranberry Bog

On this page, I'll show you what the harvest is all about and let you know the best times and places to see it in person.

Want to wade into a bog among the floating cranberries? I'll give you the inside scoop about guided tours and wade-in-the-bog  experiences, too!

What is a Cranberry Bog?

Simply put: a cranberry bog is a large, open field where cranberries are grown.

This is what a cranberry bog looks likeThis is a cranberry bog. The irrigation ditches bring water to the bog from a nearby retention pond.

So, where are the berries?

Many harvest-watching newbies are surprised to learn that cranberries don't grow on trees or bushes. They don't grow in water, either.

Instead, they grow on low-to-the-ground vines in a special combination of sand, peat and other organic matter.

Vines with small, green leaves and yellowish, not-quite-ripe cranberriesHere's a close-up of cranberries on the vines. These berries will turn deep red and be ready to pick in about 6 weeks.

* See this article from University of Massachusetts' Cranberry Station to learn all about how cranberries are grown.

When is Cape Cod Cranberry Harvest Season?

Harvesting season begins in mid-September and reaches its peak in mid-to late October.

By mid-November, the season has pretty much come to an end. :(

Spectators photographing the classic scene of crimson-colored cranberries floating on the waterMid-October is prime time!

Planning a trip to the Cape especially to see the cranberry harvest?

Timing your visit can be a bit tricky because most cranberry farmers don't let us know, in advance, when they plan to gather up their berries. 

In the "Bogs to Visit" section farther down on this page, I'll let you know when the harvests usually begin.

*Note: I also update that section whenever I find a harvest starting, or about to start, at our local bogs. So be sure to bookmark this page and check back often!   

How Cranberries are Harvested

What will you see on harvest days? 

That depends on which method the farmer is using to pick the berries:

  • Wet harvesting - Also known as "water harvesting", the berries are gathered from a flooded bog.

  • Dry harvesting - Picking machines are used to gather the fruit from a dry bog.

Wet Harvesting

The wet harvest is a multi-step process that happens over several days.

To begin, water is flooded into the bog from a nearby water source. 

Old, weathered shed alongside a cranberry bog.This is a bog before flooding.
This is the same bog after flooding.

Next, the farmers drive water-reel machines (a/k/a "egg beaters") through the flooded bog.

Large, blue, harvesting machines"Egg Beaters"

The reels churn just below the water's surface, knocking the cranberries off the vines.

Men riding cranberry harvesting machines in a flooded bog; frothing water coming from front of machines; old, weathered shack and on the tree-lined shoreRiding the egg beaters.

Then, more water is released into the bog, raising the berries up so they can float freely.   

Classic New England fall scene of cranberries floating on a bogAutumn breezes nudge the cranberries to a corner of the bog.

Why Do Cranberries Float?

Cross-section of a ripe cranberry showing the berry's tiny, brown seeds contained within pockets of air

Inside a cranberry, little "air pockets" surround the fruit's tiny seeds.

The air pockets make the berries buoyant, so they float!

How long are the berries left floating?

Not long! 

Once the berries are off their vines, the crop is usually brought in within the next 24 hours or so.  

*Tip: When you see cranberries floating in the afternoon, check back the next day. There's a pretty good chance you'll find the farmers working in the bog.

How are the cranberries removed from the bog? 

First, the farmers lay out a long length of "boom" material to surround the floating berries.

Setting the Boom
Cranberry farmer wearing waders, pulling on a long, black boom to corral floating berries in a bog"Corralling" the Cranberries

Next, the farmers gradually tighten the boom and push the  corralled berries toward an underwater vacuum system.

The berries are sucked from the water, through a large hose, into a wash plant.

Workers wading knee-deep in a bog, moving the floating cranberries toward a hydraulic suction system

As the berries go through the wash plant, weeds and other debris are separated out and fed into another truck for disposal.

Close-up of cranberries going through the first rinse in a washplant; water jets spraying the berries

Finally, the rinsed cranberries drop into the bed of a tractor-trailer for transport to a processing facility.

Bog worker operating the wash plant as cranberries are rinsed and loaded into a transport truck
View from above, showing a tractor-trailer loaded with cranberriesThese cranberries were headed for an off-Cape facility
to be made into "Craisins". :-)

Did You Know?

Bowl of fresh, bright red cranberries

Wet-harvested cranberries are processed for juices, canned sauces and other commercially-made products.  

Dry-harvested berries are sold fresh at bog-side stands, farm markets and grocery stores.

Dry Harvesting

Only a small fraction of Cape Cod's cranberry crop is dry harvested. So having a chance to see this process is an extra-special experience (IMHO)!

No flooding is involved with this method. Just the opposite. For a successful dry harvest, the berries must be free of moisture.

Masses of ripe cranberries on their leafy, green vinesThese cranberries are ready for dry picking.

The farmers use a picker machine to "comb" the berries from the vines and deposit them into a container.

Farmer walking behind a mid-century era cranberry harvesting machineFarm owner, Chris Wilson, with his vintage dry-harvesting machine
Close-up of cranberries falling into a wooden box at the rear of a bog harvesting machine
Farmer removing a full box of freshly harvested cranberries from a dry-picking machineFresh from the Vine Cranberries

Then the berries are sorted to remove any damaged or over-ripe fruit and bog debris.

Two ladies sitting at a wooden table sorting cranberries into a large wooden boxThese ladies are sorting the "old fashioned way": by hand.

And finally, the most delicious cranberries you've ever tasted are bagged and ready for sale. :-)

Customer buying fresh-from-the-bog cranberries at roadside farm stand

Did You Know?

Wooden box filled with ripe, red  cranberries; old-fashioned dry harvesting scoop leaning on the box

Kept cool and dry (not rinsed!), fresh cranberries will stay good for a month or more.

They also freeze well for up to a year.

Where to Watch the Cranberry Harvest

Topping my list of the best places on Cape Cod to watch the cranberry harvest is ...   

Fresh From the Vine Cranberry Farm

300 Main Street (Route 28)
West Yarmouth, MA

Autumn Display at Fresh From The Vine Cranberry Farm

What makes this bog so special?

Chris and Lindsay Wilson, owners of Fresh From the Vine, are a super-friendly, hard-working team who thoroughly enjoy sharing their love of cranberry farming with all of us.

They welcome the public to watch them at work in the bog ... and they tell us when to come see the harvest

* Follow Fresh From the Vine on Facebook to find out when they plan to flood the bog and corral the crop.

Male and female ducks floating among the berries on a cranberry bog

There's plenty of safe, off-street parking here ... a real plus, especially when you have little ones in tow!

Want to buy fresh cranberries? (Hint, hint: Yes, you do!)

The Wilsons sell their dry-harvested berries at their Fresh From the Vine farm stand right there by the bog.

The stand is open nearly every day from around the second week in October until they've sold out their entire crop, usually around mid-November.

*2023 Update: They'll be wet harvesting here on: October 21st and 22nd; October 28th and 29th; and November 4th and 5th, rain or shine!

Old Colony Bog

Knob Hill Road & Mayflower Terrace
South Yarmouth, MA

Large boulder with the words "Old Colony Bog", cranberries on the water in the distance

This big, beautiful cranberry bog stretches nearly the entire length of Knob Hill Road and Mayflower Terrace. So there's plenty of room to watch and take photos from the roadside when the berries are floating!

You can also reach Old Colony Bogs from the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

Get off the Rail Trail at the North Main Street/North Dennis Road crossing in South Yarmouth. Then go north, across the bridge over Rt. 6. You'll see Knob Hill Road on your right, just after you've crossed the bridge.    

Look for harvest activity at Old Colony Bogs in mid- and late October.

*2023 Update: Work began here during the second week in October. As of October 22nd, there's still one large section of bog left to harvest. That'll likely happen in the next week. 

More Bogs in Yarmouth

With so many acres of active bogs in Yarmouth, there's no shortage of other places to look for harvesting activity around town.

Man and woman standing in a bog among floating cranberriesHarvesting Day in South Yarmouth

You'll find a few more spots to watch in the areas around:

Harvesting usually begins at these bogs around Columbus Day weekend and continues into November.

FYI: The only place to park on West Yarmouth Rd. is along the road shoulder. Park at your own risk! And please be sure not to block the farmers' access to the bogs!!

*2023 Update: The harvests started on the West Yarmouth Road bogs during the weekend of October 13th. As of today (Oct. 25th), they're now working at the Syrjala Conservation Area bogs.

Beaton's Discovery Hill (Rt. 6A) Bog

295 Route 6A
East Sandwich, MA

Spectators standing on the banks of a large bog, watching the wet harvestWatching the Harvest in East Sandwich

Looking for a harvest in September? This is one of the first places on Cape Cod where we see it happening.

Watch for the farmers bringing in the crop at this bog during the third week in September. 

You'll find limited, off-road parking alongside Rt. 6A.

*2023 Update: They harvested here on September 12th, a week earlier than usual on special request from Ocean Spray. Darn! I missed it this year. :(

Thacher Cranberries

Great Western Road
Harwich, MA

thatcher cranberry farm harwich ma

Cycling enthusiasts: this one's for you!

As you ride along the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Harwich, you'll pass by Thacher Cranberries on Great Western Road.

You can get here by car, too. Head to the area around 201 - 280 Great Western Road. Just be aware that there's very little, if any, safe parking alongside the road.

Look for wet harvesting to start here in early to mid-October.

*2023 Update: My first sighting of floating berries along Great Western Road was on October 8th. Corralling and pumping was still happening when I took a ride along this section of the bike trail on October 23rd.

Hall's Cape Cod Cranberries

Depot Road
Harwich, MA

halls-cranberry-bog-10-23-23.jpgView of Halls' Bog from the Rail Trail

This is another great stop along the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Harwich!

Farmed by generations of the Hall family, this bog is at the Depot Street trailhead on the Rail Trail.

If you're coming by car, you'll find a small parking area across the street from this iconic building ...

old-cranberry-processing-plant-harwich.jpgThe old Ocean Spray cranberry screenhouse.
Depot Street, North Harwich

When will you see cranberries floating at Halls' bogs?

Follow Halls Cape Cod Cranberries on Facebook for their occasional posts.

*2023 Update: I saw berries being gathered at Halls' North Depot bog on October 23rd. Still lots more to do at Halls bogs in the days ahead!

A Bit of Cape Cod Cranberry History

The Ocean Spray screenhouse dates back to the 1920s. It was described back then as a "Community Cranberry Warehouse" where "growers may sell their berries or have them packed on account".

Here's what it looked like nearly a century ago:


See the Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce ad on the side of building? It's a little faded now, but it's still there!

Cranberry Bogs in Falmouth

There's a lot of cranberry-growing acreage in the town of Falmouth, too!

Old Barnstable Road Bog a few weeks before harvest time.

When the calendar turns to October, here's where my Falmouth-area friends go to watch the harvest.

There's limited off-street parking, mainly on the road shoulder, in each of these locations.

  • Old Barnstable Road to Carriage Shop Road

    There's a large area of bogs stretching between 143 Old Barnstable Road and 714 Carriage Shop Road in East Falmouth. (Street addresses are approximate.)
  • E. Falmouth Hwy. (Rt. 28) Bogs - in the area of 633 E. Falmouth Hwy., East Falmouth, near Rocky's Gym.

  • Wing Pond Conservation Area Bogs - walk-able via Wing Pond Woods trails. There's a small-ish parking area at the end of a dirt road off Rt. 28A. (Walking trail info and map).

    You can also bike ride to the conservation area bog on the Shining Sea Bikeway. It's about 1.9 miles south of the North Falmouth trailhead.
  •  Thomas B. Landers Road Bogs - in the area around 64 Thomas B. Landers Road near the intersection with Turner Road.

*2023 Update: Work began on the Carriage Shop Road/Old Barnstable Road bogs during the first week in October and finished up on October 16th.

The weekend of October 21st, berries were floating at Wing Pond bogs; and harvesting finished up at the bogs near Rocky's Gym and on Thomas B. Landers Road.

Guided Cranberry Bog Tours

Only two cranberry growers on Cape Cod give guided tours.

And only one offers a special tour where you can wade into the bog. (I've done it. And I have to tell you, it was a mind-blowing experience!)

So let's start there ...

Cranberry Harvest Tours to Walk or Wade

Long-time Cape Cod cranberry farmer, Dave Ross, and his partner, Patty, offer two different types of bog experiences at harvest time:

A walking tour where you'll see the crew at work and learn all about cranberry farming on the Cape ...

daves-bog-1.jpgWatching Dave's Crew at Work

And a special wading tour where you can don the waders and climb in among the berries ...

That's me, in the bog with Dave's crew. What a fantastic adventure!

Dave operates cranberry bogs in several different towns on the Cape. So tour locations, dates and times vary from week to week, according to the crew's work schedule.

When you call to make your reservation (required for all tours!), Patty will let you know where and when tours will be available. 

For more information and reservations, see Dave & Patty's Cape Cod Cranberry Bog Tours website.

Organic Cranberry Farm Tours

On a guided tour of Leo and Andrea Cakounes' property in Harwich, you'll learn all about a year in the life of a working organic cranberry farm.

Over the course of about 90 minutes, Andrea shares her wealth of knowledge about how an organic cranberry bog is formed, planted, tended and harvested.

Andrea demonstrates a vintage cranberry separator

You'll also have a chance to meet the resident farm animals and learn how they, together with the native birds and bees, all contribute to the success of this organic cranberry farm.

cranberry-farm-animals.jpgThese goats do very important work!

You won't see berries floating on the Cakounes' bogs.

But you'll definitely come away from this tour with new appreciation for the hard work and dedication it takes to bring organic Cape Cod cranberries from the farm to your table!

cranberry-farm-tour-2.JPGMy hubby and me, goofing in the photo cut-out after our tour at the Cakounes' farm. :-)

Advance reservations are required. No drop in's, please!

For details and reservations, see Leo and Andrea's Cranberry Bog Tours website.

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