How Cranberry Bogs Work

Cranberry Farming and the Local Economy

When you think of the cranberry industry, you may think of New England. It may surprise you to learn that the Midwestern state of Wisconsin actually provides nearly 60 percent of the U.S. supply of cranberries. In fact, Wisconsin produced a whopping 4.3 million barrels of the fruit in 2008 [source NASS]. The cranberry industry contributes nearly $350 million annually to Wisconsin's economy [source: WSGA]. To give you some perspective on the matter, one barrel of cranberries weighs exactly one hundred pounds; the entire U.S. produced 7.6 million barrels in 2008 [source: NASS].

Massachusetts is the largest cranberry producer in the U.S. after Wisconsin, boasting about 30 percent of the nation's cranberry production in 2008 -- the state's largest cranberry crop in history. (The other three major cranberry producing states are New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.) Due to favorable weather conditions in key areas, cranberry production in the two biggest cranberry producing states rose in 2008, which created an overall 16 percent domestic gain from a somewhat disappointing 2007 [source: NASS].

When you explore the cranberry farming industry, you'll find many small multi-generational family-run farms with less than twenty acres of bog. The fall harvest has become quite a tourist attraction in many areas; cranberry festivals and events in towns from Cape Cod to the Pacific Northwest pump substantial dollars into the local economy every year [source: Greenfield]. For example, an announced 5,000-acre expansion of cranberry beds in the small town of Cranmoor, Wis., could lead to the creation of more than 1,000 jobs [source Shuda]. Recently, the town of Whitefish Point, Mich., was named the cranberry capital of Michigan. The award and recognition could bring a boost to the local economy by attracting more interest to the industry [source: CC].

Despite the popularity of the American cranberry industry, there are other countries that are pretty serious about their cranberries as well. The United States and Canada combined cultivate most of the world's cranberries on approximately 48,000 acres (194.25 square kilometers) of cranberry bogs. The Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec occupy approximately 8,000 of these acres; Chile has around 1,000 acres (4.05 square kilometers) of its own cranberry bogs [source: CCGA]. Currently, British Columbia is responsible for more than 80 percent of all production in Canada and can produce more than 750,000 barrels of cranberries per year. That total represents almost 10 percent of the annual North American cranberry production [source: BCCGA].