The cranberry harvest is in the fall, from September to November, depending on the variety you’re growing. Some plants may start producing pickable berries as early as two years old; you can expect some to produce in year three, and most in year four.
Cranberries are ready to pick when they turn a deep, even red. The other way to check to see if your cranberries are ripe is to do a bounce test. Because cranberries have air pockets, they’re bouncy. So, pick one and see if it can bounce.
And picking cranberries is easy: just grab a berry and give it a little tug and a twist. Discard any berries that are soft, bruised, or otherwise damaged.
You can leave ripe berries on the bush until you’re ready to use them. Cranberries do not continue to ripen after you pick them, so plan accordingly. As long as you don’t have any freezing weather, your cranberries will wait until you’re ready.
You can use a hand rake like the ones used to harvest blueberries, but it’s probably just as easy to pick the cranberries by hand. Remember, in a home garden, you’re going to use the dry harvesting method. There’s no need to flood your garden to bring in the cranberry harvest!