The Cranberry Marketing Committee, in conjunction with the USDA, announced Wisconsin is projected to yield 4.9 million barrels of cranberries during the 2013 fall harvest – an increase of 5% over the 2012 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 19th consecutive year.
"We had a late spring, combined with good weather and well-timed rain, which all contribute to a healthy and plentiful crop," said Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. "We've had very successful crops in Wisconsin for the past several years, as well as increased supply coming from Canada, which has led to increased inventory and a downward pressure on grower returns. The industry is focused now on further increasing the demand for cranberries."
Lochner said that for the past several years the cranberry industry as a whole has been focused on good growing practices and increasing marketing efforts, especially overseas, to grow demand for cranberries. Over the last decade, cranberry exports have increased from less than 10% of Wisconsin's crop to nearly 33%.
"New products using cranberries are developed every year, helping us grow demand, but tough economic times here and overseas over the past few years have affected the industry," Lochner said. "It's important for Wisconsin as the leader in the industry to work hard to leverage existing consumers and create new markets for the fruit."
Growers' commitment to producing a high-quality berry is key to producing a successful crop, Lochner added. Wisconsin growers continue to implement more efficient growing practices, such as renovating existing marshes, planting higher-yielding varieties of cranberries and more.
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.
Cranberries are currently used in thousands of products around the world, ranging from juices and sweetened dried cranberries, to health supplements, body and bath projects, and pet foods.
"Cranberries are incredibly versatile and have unique health benefits that are important factors when looking to grow demand for the berry," said Lochner.
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.
The Cranberry Marketing Committee, which bases its crop estimates on grower surveys combined with an economic model, also made crop projections for other top cranberry producing states. Those projections are: Massachusetts at 2.1 million barrels, New Jersey at 530,000 barrels, Oregon at 420,000 barrels and Washington at 150,000 barrels. The nationwide forecast is expected to be up 3% from 2012.