State Cranberry Crop Expected to Decrease Slightly in 2017

COURTESY OF THE CAPE COD CRANBERRY GROWERS ASSOCIATION: Congressman William Keating (D-Boune) speaking at the 130th annual meeting of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association Wednesday in Plympton.

PLYMPTON – The 2017 cranberry harvest in Massachusetts is expected to fall slightly from last year.

A USDA review of the state’s largest cash crop presented during the 130th annual meeting of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association Wednesday predicts a yield of 2.2 million barrels – down 4 percent from 2016.

“At this point things are a little bit behind because we had that very wet and cool early summer,” said Brian Wick, the executive director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association. “That seemed to maybe set the crop back a little bit in terms of what they normally are at this time of year.”

The entire nation’s crop is projected to be 9.05 million barrels, which would be a 2 percent drop from last year.

Massachusetts produces about 22 percent of the nation’s cranberries, which is second to the 60 percent produced by Wisconsin.

Wick said the berries are sizing and beginning to gain color.

“You talk to a few growers and some are down a little bit and some are up a little bit, but I would say overall most growers are optimistic that it’s a decent crop that they are looking at. And we are looking forward to harvest.”

The annual meeting in Plympton brought together about 350 indivuduals, including growers, employees, industry stakeholders, state agency representatives and legislators.

Congressman William Keating (D-Bourne), who serves are the co-chair of the Congressional Cranberry Caucus, discussed the challenges facing growers and his commitment to help sustain the industry in Massachusetts.

“The industry remains focused on trying to get some assistance from the state and from the federal government, where possible, to help sustain this industry for the long-term,” Wick said. “There’s a whole slew of options that we are trying to find where there’ll be different programs and opportunities for growers to take advantage of to help sustain them during this downturn in the industry where prices for a lot of growers are well below their cost of production.”

Industry officials are discussing possible tax credits to help local growers.

Wick said many cranberry bogs in the state are over 100 years old and don’t produce the newer varieties of cranberries the industry is demanding.

The tax benefit would help growers be in a better position to receive loans to make renovations knowing the credit would offset some of the costs from the loans.

The idea for a tax credit for cranberry growers was a result of discussions by a task force made up of legislators and industry officials.

Wick said when growers renovate bogs it can be a boost for the local economy by providing more business for companies which supply the growers, along with creating jobs.

The renovations could also provide environmental benefits are new varieties of the fruit use less water.

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