Most farm-focused talk in the Dairyland is focused around cheese, but let’s not forget the other agriculture commodity that reigns supreme in our state: the cranberry.
Wisconsin is far and away the largest cranberry producer in the United States, producing more than double the next top-producing state, Massachusetts. The state also produces nearly twice as many cranberries as the entire nation of Canada, but the increasing production of our neighbors to the north may be putting the state’s producers on their heels.
In 2016, Wisconsin cranberry growers harvested a near-record number of the crop, with around 5.9 million barrels. The United States Department of Agriculture estimated the 2016 crop at 5.2 million, which was well short of the actual.
In 2016, Wisconsin legislators asked the USDA to purchase the surplus crop, similar to what happened in 2014 after a record harvest in 2013. The purchase of cranberry surplus would help burgeon the effects of decreasing prices due to oversupply.
But that oversupply is unlikely to change as Canada, more specifically British Columbia, is finding a growing cranberry harvest in its bogs. While Wisconsin exports about 35 percent of its cranberries, those markets are being challenged by increasing production elsewhere.
What makes things even more difficult is the nature of the cranberry bog. While row crop farmers can typically switch to a different crop when prices fluctuate, cranberry farmers are basically stuck with the thick wet bog that houses their cranberries. It’s not easy to turn a cranberry farm into anything else, even when prices force some out of the market.
Still, many believe that the cranberry has plenty of global markets left to tap, with many Asian nations that don’t yet know what a cranberry is.
Crop prices (Feb. 27)
Rio Creek Feed Mill – Algoma
|Commodity||Price (per bushel)||Basis|
|New-Crop Wheat (SRW)||$3.87||-0.75|
Fox River Valley Ethanol – Green Bay
Basis: The difference between the local cash price for a commodity and the Chicago cash price (where the Board of Trade sets national futures price).
Gas Price Averages
United States: $2.29
United States one year ago: $1.74
Wisconsin one year ago: $1.71
Northern Door: $2.35
Sturgeon Bay: $2.29
Gold: $1,262.50/troy ounce
Silver: $18.40/troy ounce
Sources: aaa.com, agweb.com, gasbuddy.com, money.cnn.com, USDA, Wisconsin Public Radio, UW-Extension