Massachusetts farmers give outlook on fall cranberry harvest

NBC 10 BOSTON – The cranberry harvest in Massachusetts is underway this fall.

Cranberries are the state’s leading crop. This year, they’re expected to yield 1.9 million barrels and generate a total of $70 million.

Matt Beaton is a fifth-generation farmer on the South Shore.

“The quality is starting to drop off a little bit, but it’ll probably be an average crop,” Beaton said, standing near one of his family’s bogs in Wareham.

“We’ve had some tough years in the recent past, but right now, pricing has come up a bit,” said Brian Wick of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association. “That helps the growers, for sure.”

Not surprisingly, weather has been the biggest challenge. Growers were able flood their bogs during last winter’s cold snaps to protect the cranberry vines. But prolonged periods of wet weather and drought in the last two summers have stressed them out.

“Cranberries are, luckily, one of the three native fruits to North America, so they do withstand some of these adverse conditions a little better,” said Beaton.

Wisconsin is the country’s top producer of cranberries, followed by Massachusetts. Even so, the industry generates more than $1 billion for the state.

“I like to think of it as the quintessential Massachusetts crop. We take a lot of pride in cranberries,” Wick said. “We were the first region to grow them in cultivated form.”

Farmers are more than halfway through the fall harvest. In the next several weeks, they’ll be working straight out, and then preparations will begin for next season.

By John Moroney, NBC 10 Boston

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