WEST OF WINNEBAGO REGIONAL NEWS: Green Lake County, Marquette County, Waupaca County, Waushara County

Cranberries still a king crop in Wisconsin during the COVID-19 pandemic

Local News

JUNCTION CITY, Wis. (WFRV) When there’s a chill in the air like today, we’re reminded the holiday season isn’t too far off, and there’s some surprising news about how one of Wisconsin’s popular holiday crop is fairing during this pandemic.

Dave Hansen manages DuBay’s Cranberry Company and he says, “Wisconsin has been the number one growing region for cranberries for the last 26 years.”

Just when the changing of the seasons paint new colors on trees, it’s when growers get ready to collect our states number one crop.

Hansen says, “Wisconsin’s cranberry harvest starts about the beginning of October when the leaves start turning it’s about the same time the cranberry harvest starts.”

Cranberries generate big dollars for the state. Hansen says, “This year, I think we’re expected to bring in, as far as the state’s economy, $1 billion dollars.”

Half the cranberries in the world come from Wisconsin, which may be why sales have been stable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hansen says, “Projections right now is that Wisconsin is supposed to be up around 10 to 15 percent over last year.”

Isaac Zarecki, communications manager with the Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association says, “A lot of our growers are doing some proactive measures, isolating different workgroups from each other, minimizing social contact.”

A relatively small crew harvests these fruit, so the coronavirus hasn’t substantially impacted Dubay’s crops.

Zarecki says, “The nice thing about being on a marsh way out in the middle of nowhere is you’re not coming in contact with a lot of people, so in a lot of ways it hasn’t hit our growers too hard.”

Hansen says, “This year’s estimate is 5.6 million barrels and a barrel is 100 pounds. Last year, I believe we did 4.6 to 4.9 million barrels.”

Twenty percent of Dubay’s cranberries are consumed during the holiday season, but growers hope that’s not the only time you’ll enjoy this fruit.

Hansen says, “Everybody starts thinking about pumpkin spice this time of year, I like to start thinking about cranberries. You can eat cranberries all year long and we encourage that.”

The shorter days and cooler nights help cranberries get their familiar ruby hue and out of the 72 counties in our state– 20 counties grow cranberries.

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