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Top cranberry state expects bountiful crop this fall

08/18/2010 @ 9:23am

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. – The Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) projects that Wisconsin will yield 4.35 million barrels of cranberries during the 2010 fall harvest – an increase of 10 percent over 2009. Based on the projections – and with cooperation from Mother Nature during the next four to six weeks – Wisconsin will be the country’s top cranberry-producing state for the 16th consecutive year.

Tom Lochner, executive director of WSCGA, said the projected crop is due to a warm and wet growing season. The crop also shows the growers’ increased commitment to growing the cranberries in a sustainable way.

“Wisconsin growers are looking forward to another bountiful crop this year,” said Lochner. “It’s been a good summer for all things green and growing, and it’s a positive sign that the state’s largest fruit crop continues to grow and flourish.”

NASS, which bases its crop estimates on grower surveys, also made crop projections for other top cranberry producing states. Those projections are: Massachusetts at 1.95 million barrels, New Jersey at 530,000 barrels, Oregon at 385,000 barrels and Washington at 135,000 barrels.

According to Lochner, the warm summer and the significant rainfalls in the state contributed to this year’s good crop in Wisconsin. Because of that, Lochner says the growers haven’t needed to irrigate as much on the marshes as much this summer for crop needs or frost, which also contributes to the sustainability practices many growers have in place. For instance, many growers have water conservation systems that measure tension and pressure in the soil so they know how much or how little to irrigate their cranberry beds.

Lochner also added that growers are already noticing berries are larger in size this time of year than in
recent seasons.

“While size doesn’t affect the taste of the tart cranberries, it is a positive sign of a good crop,” he said.
“We still have six weeks to go until harvest begins, so it will be interesting to see how much bigger the
cranberries will get in that time. The quality of the 2010 crop should be exceptional.”

The 2010 crop is also expected to produce an over-supply of cranberries. In 2008, the Wisconsin
cranberry industry announced efforts to increase production of cranberries to help meet rising domestic and international demand, as well as bring more jobs and economic activity to Wisconsin. In the first year of that expansion effort, approximately 1,500 acres of new marshes were planted. Higher yields, that new acreage in Wisconsin as well as Canada and the overall slowed economy have contributed to this over-supply and building inventories.

“Due to the current economy, both the national and international demand is down,” said Lochner. “We
want to step up our marketing efforts to demonstrate the quality and health of Wisconsin cranberries and get the demand going again."

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