Massachusetts cranberry growers see ‘solid crop’ in the works

File photo (Image by Pexels from Pixabay)

WHDH-TV BOSTON – A year after a drought created headaches for them, Massachusetts cranberry growers this summer have had to contend with a historically rainy July and are projecting that this fall will produce a fairly average cranberry harvest.

The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, which represents more than 300 cranberry growers throughout the state, said its leadership thinks the best estimate for Bay State cranberry production in 2021 is 1.9 million barrels of 100 pounds each. That would be up 5 percent from the actual 2020 harvest, but down almost 7 percent from last year’s forecast.

“Similar to last year, our bogs are tracking to deliver a solid crop yield for Massachusetts growers, what I would consider an average crop for our region based on past performance,” CCCGA Executive Director Brian Wick said. “Although there is more than a month to go before harvest begins, Massachusetts cranberry growers are gearing up for a busy harvest season. Like every growing season, there are always ups and downs that growers experience as they nurture our native berry.”

Wick said some negative impacts of last summer’s drought on perennial vines carried over into the start of this year and that the growing season got off to a slow start with a cold spring. June brought good weather for pollination, he said, and the bloom stage lasted longer than usual.

“In an age of weather extremes, our growers have persistently worked to keep the bogs dry, quite a change from last year’s drought,” Wick said. “It remains to be seen if the prolonged rain and wet conditions will impact fruit quality this fall.”

Cranberries are the largest agricultural food commodity produced in Massachusetts, and the annual crop value tends to be just greater than $60 million. The commercial production of cranberries began on Cape Cod in 1816, the CCCGA said, and Massachusetts currently grows about 23 percent of the nation’s cranberries. Only Wisconsin grows more.