Cranberry crop down in Wisconsin

Cranberry crop down in Wisconsin

A cool early growing season and late heat will reduce the supply of top grade Wisconsin cranberries this year, one marketer reports.

Still, fresh market supply — which takes about 3% of the total crop — should be sufficient for strong holiday promotions.

Bob Wilson, president of the Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc.-based Cranberry Network — marketers of Habelman label cranberries — said Oct. 21 that the harvest of Wisconsin cranberries was wrapping up.

Leading up to harvest, there hadn’t been enough cold weather to spur uniform red coloring of the fruit, Wilson said.

“We’re probably in the last 10 days of harvest right now and the net result is that it is looking a little worse than anticipated in terms of yield,” Wilson said. 

“It has really become apparent that the total numbers are down, both in terms of berry count, and in terms of the size of the berries we’ve got,” he said, noting that some are projecting the Wisconsin crop to be 20% down from earlier projections.

With lack of color a key issue, Wisconsin is projected to produce much less fruit for the frozen market. 

Marketers will take fruit out of the frozen processing market to feed fresh market demand, Wilson said. 

A late spring delayed crop development, causing a late bloom and late fruit set. With the crop running about three weeks behind normal early in the season, hot weather in July helped it advance. Even with that spell, however, the number of growing degree days was lacking, Wilson said.

“We did do some catching up, but not enough,’ he said. “We knew at the front end, when we started harvest in mid-September that some of the numbers weren’t quite up to snuff,” he said. 

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