TOWN OF CRANMOOR - At the Elm Lake Cranberry Company in Wood County, crews are working overtime. The third-generation operation sits on 1,600 acres of land in the town of Cranmoor, about 10 miles west of Wisconsin Rapids.
Owners Mike and Diane Moss say it was a quiet start to the season.
“Conditions were just right. We had no severe weather this summer. The blossom was good. We had no severe weather during the blossom which is always helpful,” Diane Moss said.
The Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association estimates that in the coming weeks, 4.9 million barrels of cranberries will be harvested statewide. That's a 5% increase from 4.6 million barrels one year ago.
“There's a potential for a record crop and this could be our biggest crop,” Mike Moss said. “But on the four beds we've done so far, the trucks have been coming in lighter.”
The bogs are flooded at harvest time. A motorized picker skims the bed, releasing the air-filled berries to the surface.
“It's a little easier on the vines than the beater was,” Mike Moss said.
Mike Moss says his bog will yield more than 1,000 barrels of berries. That's about 50 tons.
“And when he's done picking, then we'll flood it up. We'll raise it another foot. And we'll corral it with a boom. Then we have a food pump which will suck them up and spray them and wash them and clean them. Load the truck and then the truck goes to Babcock and then the berries are frozen in a matter of a day or two.”
The berries from this farm will be sold to Ocean Spray, where they will be made into juice, craisins and sauce.
Wisconsin is the nation's number one cranberry producer. Industry leaders say Americans consume about 400 million pounds of cranberries each year. Twenty percent of those will be eaten during the Thanksgiving holiday.
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