That’s right, Wisconsin produces more than half of the cranberries in the country. With cranberry sauce being a prominent dish at the Thanksgiving table, we are going to take a moment to talk about this traditional fruit’s impact on Wisconsin.
In 2019, Wisconsin was responsible for 59 percent of the nation’s cranberry population with the production of 4.67 million barrels.
Wisconsin’s economy gains roughly 4,000 jobs and $1 billion from cranberry production, making it the state’s most profitable fruit. With a number that large, it is no surprise that Wisconsin leads not only the country in cranberry production but also the world.
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While there may not be a cranberry bog on every street corner in Milwaukee, you can easily find them along Highway 173 around Tomah and Wisconsin Rapids. And you can practically find them anywhere in the state as Wisconsin is home to around 250 cranberry bogs covering approximately 21,000 acres of land in 20 of Wisconsin’s counties.
Wisconsin has some pretty wild weather, so what makes Wisconsin the place for cranberries? Don’t plants need good weather to grow? The answer to that is in Wisconsin’s acidic soil and the abundance of fresh water that makes Wisconsin the perfect home to cranberry production.
In fact, cranberries are a historic fruit in Wisconsin that the state’s Native inhabitants took great care of, according to Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association.
Cranberries made up a good portion of the Ho-Chunk tribe’s trade with early colonists. This eventually leads to commercial production in Green Lake County during the early 1850s.
Today, farmers have developed their own methods for getting around Wisconsin’s unpredictable weather. In the winter, farmers flood their fields full of water to allow the fields to get iced over to preserve the vines for the next season. Some farmers also put the sand on top of the ice so that during the springtime the sand will land on the vines to allow for optimal growth during the spring.