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Cranberry Crop Slowed By Weather But Should Recover

Pixabay.com Alyrat

Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries, producing 62 percent of the U.S crop in 2017. Many cranberry farms are in the Northwoods. A spokesperson for the farmers says the crop is at a critical point as the plants were also affected by this year's wet weather.

The Director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, Tom Lochner says the cooler weather in May and June has slowed growth..

"...Right now the plants are coming into bloom and from what I've seen in talking to growers, their starting to see some pretty strong bloom in some areas across the state, especially in the southern regions. Growers have brought in honeybees and bumblebees for pollination. Right now it's the pollination season, a little behind where we normally would be, a week or two..."

He says growers need dry, warm, weather. He says right now the crop is projected to fall into the 'normal' range in terms of the amount of fruit...

"The estimates we had were between 5.5 and 6 million barrels of fruit. That's very early and very subjective until we get through bloom and fruit set to see what we have in terms of berry numbers, we can't be totally confident on what the final crop will be...."

While public perception might be that cranberries need a lot of water, Lochner says that isn't necessarily  true. They grow like any other plant, albeit in moist soils, then are flooded only at harvest time. He says an abundance of rain actually slows growth and can be bad during the pollination season.

Lochner says growers have lifted a voluntary production cap so growers are back to full production. The cap was designed to reduce the number of berries as the market price had fallen. He says the growth in inventories of fruit is down and sales have picked up.

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