Great cranberry harvest underway in Burlington County

HOG WALLOW, N.J. (WPVI) -- Hog Wallow, Burlington County, is home to Pine Island Cranberry company - the largest, and one of the oldest cranberry growers in New Jersey.

It's owned by the Haynes family, and for five generations they've been producing the tart, red fruit on 1,400 acres of bogs deep in the Pinelands.

"It can be hard sometimes working with family, but I think it's so much more meaningful than working for people you aren't related to or don't know that well. I like it being all in the family," said Michael Haines, farmer.

Harvest time is intense. From late September until early November, workers are in the bogs from sun up 'til sundown. Instead of shaking the berries from the vines, the Haines are now using a new machine called a Gates Harrow.

"They float to the surface and it comes through and it lifts, it's basically a rake, and the tines lift them sort of off the vine on to the surface of the water. It's a lot easier on the vines, it's a lot easier on the berries," said Stefanie Haines, farmer.

The Haines grow about 3 million pounds of cranberries a year. And while the berries used to be popular mainly at Thanksgiving, the industry has expanded to all kinds of products.

Craisins, juices and flavored water all depend on the Scarlet Berry.

What makes a good cranberry?

"A cranberry that bounces. Size, color, soundness, the firmness of the fruit," said Jeremy Fenstermaker, farmer.

The Haines are part of the Ocean Spray cooperative and sell exclusively to the company. Several of the employees have been here for decades and love working outdoors.

"The color of the berries, the color of the trees when the leaves get ready to turn, it's beautiful," said Bob Heritage, 37-Year employee.

Rutgers has created a new variety of cranberry to honor the family's contribution to South Jersey farming. It's called - what else? - the Haines.
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