Farmers say cranberries thriving despite drought - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Farmers say cranberries thriving despite drought


This year's drought has negatively impacted almost every crop in Wisconsin except one—our state fruit.

"If anything, we've probably seen more positives with increase in temps," said Mark Mahoney of Owen Rock Cranberries in Hancock. "More growth, berries are larger."

Mahoney and 1,500 other cranberry enthusiasts gathered in Waushara County to talk about this year's season and crop.

"It's a very tight knit community because we're so specialized in the types of things we do," said Tom Lochner of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association.

"It's a terrific networking opportunity among growers," said Mahoney.

Some experts also joined the group, hitting on the highlights of the season.

"This has been a unique growing season in all kinds of crops, so there's a lot to talk about this year," said Rebecca Harbot, UW Madison fruit specialist.

And there's a lot of optimism. These farmers are actually seeing a healthy crop despite the drought.

"This growing season has been unlike any we've seen," said Lochner.

That's because cranberries are irrigated. Growers say the lack of rain hasn't affected them yet.

"We're probably at size now what we harvested last year," said Jim Bielmeier, marsh manager at Owen Rock Cranberries.

But they know that could change if dry conditions continue for too long. For now, though, production is strong.

"The crop does look pretty good for this year," said Harbot. "I think growers are optimistic. Despite some bizarre occurrences, we're looking at a pretty big crop."

And that crop is expected to be harvested and eaten in just a few months.

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