Cranberry harvest begins in New Jersey

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Cranberry harvest begins in New Jersey: Nora muchanic reports on Action News at 6 p.m., October 17, 2017 (WPVI)

It is harvest time at Pine Island Cranberry Company in Hog Wallow, Burlington County.

Pine Island is the largest cranberry farm in New Jersey. And crews are busy flooding the 1400 acres of bogs with homemade machines called beaters, gently shaking the fruit from the plants.

"You've got the guys in one bog who are picking, as they are finishing that up you've got another blog gathering," said Stephanie Haines, cranberry farmer. "We're going seven days a week."

The state of New Jersey is the third largest cranberry Producer in the country. Last year Garden State farmers is harvested $28 million of the ruby red fruit.

Farmers are thrilled to finally see some colder temperatures. Cold weather helps the cranberries ripen and turn red.

"We want it to be a little cooler because we need the fruit to ripen up and darken and that doesn't happen without cold temperatures," said Mike Haines, cranberry farmer.

"It doesn't make them any sweeter but the redder the better," said Stephanie.

The deep color is what buyers want.

"Over a certain percentage of white fruit per load I think you are actually penalized," said Mike.

Stephanie and Mike Haines are brother and sister, the 5th generation of cranberry farmers here.

They said the business has been in the family for 127 years.

To help the harvest and save time the Haines are now using a bogside cleaner.

The floating cranberries are guided toward a vacuum that sucks them up and washes off any debris or leaves right there in the field. Then, the clean berries are loaded onto a truck where they can go directly to be processed.

The days are long, but worth it.

"There are a lot of New Jersey jokes but you call it the garden state and this is why," said Stephanie. "This is our New Jersey."

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