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 4.5 million barrels of cranberries during the 2012 fall harvest - an increase of two percent over the 2011 crop.
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 18th consecutive year.
"Wisconsin continues to lead the nation in cranberry crop production, and this year growers expect another good crop," said Tom Lochner, executive director of WSCGA. "The warm and early spring kept growers on their toes identifying and managing pests, but the overall warm weather and a dry period when pollination was taking place contributed to a nice berry set and a good crop this year. We still have about six weeks to go until harvest begins, and a lot of things can happen in that time."
Lochner added that it has been an unusually dry growing season, but growers have been able to irrigate
to compensate for the lack of rain. While many growers use water conservation practices
, including systems that measure tension and pressure in the soil to know how much or little to irrigate, there still is a need for rain. Water supplies are of concern, especially with harvest and winter flooding approaching.
According to Lochner, the Wisconsin crop size is also due to growers' continued investment in their marshes, including adding new acreage and implementing more efficient growing practices such as renovating existing marshes, planting higher-yielding, varieties of cranberries and more.
"The industry as a whole continues to focus on good growing practices and increasing marketing efforts, especially overseas, to grow demand for cranberries," Lochner added. "That is important to our leading Wisconsin fruit industry that continues to grow."
According to a University of Wisconsin report, Wisconsin's cranberry industry has an annual economic impact
on the state of $300 million and supports 3,400 jobs from its 21,000 acres of cranberries grown in 20 counties in central and northern Wisconsin. Last year, 33 percent of the total U.S. cranberry production volume was exported, with growing interest in cranberries especially in the Baltic States, Turkey and Russia.
Wisconsin's annual cranberry harvest will begin in late September or early October. Cranberries have been harvested in Wisconsin since the 1830s, even before Wisconsin was a state. More information about Wisconsin cranberries and harvest festival dates can be found at www.wiscran.org
NASS, which bases its crop estimates on grower surveys nationwide, also made crop projections for other top cranberry producing states. Those projections are: Massachusetts at 2.1 million barrels, New Jersey at 542,500 barrels, Oregon at 400,000 barrels and Washington at 142,000 barrels. The nationwide forecast is expected to be down less than one percent from 2011.
WSCGA was founded in 1887 and is committed to developing and implementing programs that will assist growers in doing a better job of growing cranberries and strengthen the public support for the industry in Wisconsin. The organization is celebrating its 125th harvest in 2012 and is celebrating year round, including offering a heritage sweepstakes to cranberry fans. For more information, visit www.wiscran.org, Like WSCGA on Facebook
and Follow on Twitter