TOMAH, Wis. (AP) -

Wisconsin cranberry growers expect an above-average crop yield this year because of nearly ideal growing conditions.

Ed Grygleski is president of Valley Corp., a cranberry producer near Tomah in west central Wisconsin. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that it has been a great year for growing because there has been plenty of sun without extreme heat.

"We've had plenty of sun and plenty of nice days. This big crop that we are sitting on is more weather-related than anything," Grygleski said.

According to the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, cranberry production in Wisconsin is a nearly $1 billion industry and employs about 3,000 people in the state.

About 250 farmers in 20 Wisconsin counties grow cranberries on 21,000 acres. The majority of the crop is grown in the central part of the state.

"That's what you look forward to all year long," Grygleski said. "It can be a little bit stressful, but it's the best time of the year."

Domestic sales for the cranberries are estimated to be up 5 percent this year.

"Marketing efforts are beginning to pay off," said Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. "We have a stabilization of the amount of fruit that's coming in and an increase in sales. There has been a lot of work on developing overseas markets."

He hopes to see grower's returns move higher than their crops.

"Grower returns are still not where we need them to be economically sustainable, but hopefully as we continue to see these numbers move in this direction we'll start to see the returns come back up as well," Lochner said.

Nearly two-thirds of the nation's cranberry crop comes from Wisconsin.