Cold spring could lead to fewer cranberries harvested in Wisconsin

“We’re going to be starting to get into the vines, just be careful and pick your feet up a bit.”

Although they may look ready, there’s only one way farmer Amber Bristow makes sure a cranberry is fresh.

“Seeds are brown, that means it’s ripe.”

Meaning it’s time to harvest.

“Once all the berries are corralled into the corner we have what’s called a berry pump. It acts as a big vacuum and it sucks all the berries up and puts them in the back of a dump truck. Then we send it off to be processed.”

But this batch of berries might be smaller than the last few years.

“Like most farmers in the area we’re kind of noticing a smaller crop.”

Cold weather may have stunted the fruit’s growth.

“We’re about a week to ten days behind normal crop schedule, just due to late spring that we had and a cold early summer when the fruit was starting to blossom.”

Wisconsin leads the nation in cranberry production and has for more than 25 years straight. Wisconsin’s growers haven’t produced fewer than 5 million barrels in the past 4 years. That may change this year, but Amber is still happy with the crop.

“We went through that cold streak in the summer, so we’re noticing a smaller fruit. But overall we’re pleased with the crop this year.”

Most farms have systems to help fight back against the weather.

“If it gets too hot we can irrigate, and if it gets too cold we can control that as well.”

Showing that it will take more than some bad weather to keep berries from blossoming at the Rezin & Son Cranberry Marsh.

“There’s so much pride in what we do, and we want to keep it going for generations.”

Another reason Amber wasn’t too concerned with a potentially smaller harvest, is in the last few years there has been an oversupply of the fruit.

They didn’t ship all the berries they grew last year, out of fear of lowering the price.

They don’t look to do that this year.

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