Wisconsin is the nation’s leader in cranberry farming and produces about 400 million pounds of fruit annually – more than half of the estimated 700 million pounds of cranberries that Americans consume each year. A recent study estimated that cranberry growing contributes over $300 million to the state’s economy and provides employment for over 7,000 people.

Cranberries have long been Wisconsin’s number one fruit crop. Some 240 growers in 20 different counties continue the tradition of cultivating this unique fruit, maintaining an agricultural heritage that began in the mid 1800s. Some marshes have been successfully producing a crop for over 100 years.

One of  three native only to North American fruits, the cranberry is grown in peat swamps or marshes where the soil has an acidic nature and there is an abundant supply of water and sand. Although it may take three to five years for a new cranberry bed to produce a large enough crop for harvest, the vines will continue to produce a crop for several decades.

The low growing vines blossom in late June or early July. Honeybees assist in pollination and small green berries are evident by early August. The cranberry matures until fall harvest when the crimson berries are dislodged by a mechanical harvester and float to the surface.

While Wisconsin cranberry marshes occupy more than 180,000 acres, cranberries are actually grown on only about 18,000 of those acres. The balance, called support land, consists of natural and man-made wetlands, woodlands and uplands.

This support land is not directly used for crop growing, however, its network of ditches, dikes, and reservoirs ensures an adequate water supply while providing valuable habitat where plant and animal life flourish.

These natural wetlands help to control flooding as well as filter and recycle water. Growers protect and manage these areas as part of their normal farming practices. As a result, cranberry marshes are familiar territory to rare and endangered species. Bald eagles, calypso orchids, sandhill cranes, ospreys and other wildlife flourish on cranberry marshes in the state. Improved technology and grower innovation ensure the state’s leadership in production of fruit while maintaining the growers’ commitment to the environment.

For more information, contact Glacial Lakes Cranberries at 2480 County Road D, Wisconsin Rapids, WI  54495. Call 715-887-2095 or

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14 Feb 2014

By TRAVELHOST Contributing Writer