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Series: Growing Cranberries In Wisconsin

A holiday dinner staple across the United States, cranberries are one of Wisconsin's signature agricultural products. The state's cranberry industry produces over half the world's supply of this tart and tiny fruit, generating nearly $1 billion in annual revenue. Wisconsin currently exports 35 percent of its cranberry yield, which has grown tenfold since the beginning of the 20th century. But an uptick in international production and abundant harvests in recent years have added financial stress on Wisconsin's producers, and falling cranberry prices have forced some growers out of the industry. At the same time, scientists are experimenting to expand the variety of cranberries available, and the industry is exploring new markets abroad.
Federal legislators from Wisconsin say the U.S. Department of Agriculture needs to purchase the surplus cranberries after this year's abundant harvest.
Despite leading the nation in cranberry production, Wisconsin doesn't have an outdoor research station for the tart fruit, but a partnership between growers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is about to change that.
Wisconsin growers produced between 5.85 and 5.9 million barrels of cranberries in 2016, according the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. That harvest would come close to a record they set in 2013.
The cranberry crop at harvest is beautiful. Blue sky reflected on the water, bright red fruit and the autumn leaves of surrounding trees create an image as colorful as its history.
The modern cranberry harvest in Wisconsin is made possible, in no small part, by the work of pollinators during the summer months.
Around 250 farms in Wisconsin grow cranberries on 21,000 acres, mainly in the Central Sands region of the state.