The cranberry harvest in Massachusetts is expected to be well underway by the end of September. Recent cooler weather in the region has brought the crop forward and growers are now preparing to begin harvest shortly.
"We are one to two weeks out from harvest which is a bit earlier than usual," said Patrick Rhodes of Cape Cod Select. "Recent weeks has seen cooler weather, which is in contrast to last year when it was warm throughout September. As a result, the whole crop is ahead of schedule."
He added that the crop this year is looking good, with all indications pointing to a decent size crop with good quality berries. "We are feeling very optimistic about the crop. Quality is above average, meaning the berries are in excellent condition and are expected to have a longer shelf life. The crop is in great shape at this point."
The harvest is expected to continue through to the end of November.
Pricing increasing steadily
Demand for cranberries is reportedly on the rise again. The last couple of years has seen pricing increase after a period of low prices. Growers say this period hurt the industry but they are feeling more positive now that demand is picking up again.
"Pricing is increasing slightly as it has been for some time now," Rhodes explained. "We experienced a stretch of low pricing which hurt the industry. Although there is still plenty of work to be done, things are heading in the right direction."
Rhodes continued by noting that each category has seen specific growth depending on the region. "Some areas have more demand for certain forms of cranberry - be it fresh, dried or frozen," he said. "We are seeing each region showing an increase in demand for these specific categories."
Year-round frozen cranberries
Cape Cod Select said it has been working to make cranberries available year-round as a frozen product. According to the company, this has been in response to rising demand for cranberries at any time of the year. Although dried cranberries are also generally available year-round, Rhodes said a frozen option provides a choice to people that do not want the added sugar that is found in dried cranberries.
"We are still strongly pursuing the frozen berry market," he shared. "This category is growing each year so we continue to do more of them. Cape Cod Select now has frozen cranberries available year-round across the country in 1lb and 3lb bags. We also do fruit mixes as well. For example, we have a tropical fruit mix, which includes cranberries, pineapples, mangoes and bananas. Then there is the Power Berry Mix, which is a combination of cranberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. These fruit mixes are ideal for smoothies."