JACKSON COUNTY, WIS. (WLAX,WEUX) – Fresh cranberries will soon be available around the state once growers finish up the annual harvest.
First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff takes us to a cranberry marsh in Jackson County to see the harvesting process.
It’s an annual tradition in Wisconsin, thousands of fresh cranberries are being harvested at marshes across the state.
The process marks the culmination of months of work to get the crop ready for the fall.
“It starts in the spring with frost watch…we go into the growing season fertilizing, spraying, we get to this point to where we flood, we pick the fruit, we get it floating, and then we corral it, put it in the berry pump which pumps it into semis, and we deliver it to our handler,” said Wade Brockman
Brockman is very familiar with harvesting cranberries:
“I grew up on my grandfather’s marsh, and I’m a third-generation grower and this is all I’ve ever done, it’s all I know what to do,” said Brockman
Brockman is among the many growers who make up the lucrative cranberry industry in Wisconsin, whose product stretches across the nation and the globe.
“Wisconsin’s the leading producer of cranberries in the world, we produce about 60 percent of the U.S crop, and we do it on 21,500 acres. We’ve been the top producer for, I think, 28 years now,” said Tom Lochner.
Lochner, of the State Cranberry Growers Association, says the crop brings in around a billion dollars a year for Wisconsin, creating four thousand jobs in the process.
Lochner has been growing cranberries for more than 30 years.
While the methods have changed, many of the challenges remain the same.
“If you want to do this, you have to be willing to accept that 85 percent of what goes on here is totally out of your control, it’s mother nature…you need to focus on that 15 percent of what you can do to grow that crop,” said Lochner.
Lochner is optimistic that the cranberry industry will remain strong in Wisconsin moving forward, with growers working to change the genetics of the crop to create an even higher quality product.
In Jackson County, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.