Wisconsin cranberry production thriving, despite drought - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wisconsin cranberry production thriving, despite drought

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) - The cranberry harvest in Wisconsin is underway and the results are looking good despite the drought.

That harvest means hundreds of millions of dollars for Wisconsin, as the state is set to lead the nation in cranberry production.

"It's always due to the weather. This year was certainly unusual to say the least," Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association said.

This year, the USDA says Wisconsin is expected to harvest 4.5 million barrels of cranberries, up two percent from just last year. That's an impact of $300 million on the state.

"Brought in a few more acres into production this year, plus above average yields—we're going to see that crop increase a little bit," Lochner said.

At Elm Lake in Wisconsin Rapids, it's the timing that's been the biggest change.

"This year has been one for the record books as far as early. I've never seen anything as early," Mike Moss, owner of Elm Lake Cranberry said.

Moss says he will produce around 40,000 barrels. But for him, that's not too much of an increase.

"This year will be an average crop," Moss added.

Cranberry growers say the drought hasn't really affected the size of their crop, but it has impacted the amount of work that goes into producing it.

"It's made more work to bring the crop through. We had to protect it earlier, we had to sprinkle more throughout the summer," Moss said.

That work is coming to an end. Moss says all his cranberries will be harvested by Wednesday. And now, he's looking ahead.

"Being a farmer, you have to be optimistic for next year," Moss said.

Optimistic—as Wisconsin goes for the 19th year of leading the nation in cranberry production.

Experts say cranberries were able to thrive this summer because farmers use irrigation systems and don't have to rely on too much rain.

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