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US (WI): Frost raises cranberry production priceThe weather is causing complications for Wisconsin cranberry growers. A string of below freezing nights - hot on the heels of a warm Winter that lead to premature budding - means extra costs.
Michael Obrien, a cranberry grower for 28 years and operations manager at Lake Nokomis Cranberries in Eagle River.
"Farming is constant variety, constantly changing challenges," he said. "Some of the growers in the central part of the state are more like a month ahead.
"The early thaw exposes the plants and it can be kind of tricky that time of year to protect them."
Obrien has been using sprinklers at night to prevent the plants from freezing.
"It's thousands of dollars of extra expense for every night we have to have the irrigation going," he said. However, there is every chance such an investment wil pay off in the long term.
According to the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, the industry pumps $300,000,000 into Wisconsin's economy each year and employees around 3,400 people.
Last year, farmers here in Wisconsin produced four million barrels of cranberries - almost 60% of the national total crop yield - predictions for this are for similar amounts, if growers can just keep the frost at bay.
Publication date: 5/15/2012
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