WSCGA celebrates 125th anniversary
The Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA) announced Wednesday, Feb. 8th, has been named “Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association Day” throughout the state by Governor Walker in recognition of WSCGA’s 125th anniversary.
Wisconsin’s cranberry growers met for the first time as a collective group on February 8, 1887 in Tomah, to discuss the value of a state organization representing cranberry growers.
WSCGA has grown from its original 20-member organization to one that represents approximately 250 growers in the state, many whom are fourth and fifth generation growers in the family business.
“We are extremely proud of our growers, who have come a long way since that first meeting in 1887. Today, Wisconsin leads the nation and world in cranberry production,” said David Amundson, president of WSCGA.
He added, “Our growers are deeply committed to growing the industry for future generations by taking steps today to grow a more sustainable berry.”
According to Tom Lochner, executive director of WSCGA, cranberry growers throughout the state have been working for years to implement farming techniques that optimize cranberry production while reducing environmental impact at the same time.
Across the industry, growers are developing new, more efficient technology, implementing conservation strategies on marshes such as alternative energy production, and working with academic research leaders to produce the best berry possible.
Cranberry growing in Wisconsin has changed significantly in the past 125 years.
Early cranberry growers harvested their crop by hand and often placed ads in local newspapers looking for pickers to hire.
The cranberry rake was invented in 1871 and was believed to do the work of 20 pickers.
By the early 1900s, Wisconsin ranked third in the production of cranberries behind Massachusetts and New Jersey. Now, Wisconsin consistently ranks first in U.S. cranberry production and has held that spot for the past 17 years.
Today, cranberries — Wisconsin’s official state fruit — are grown on approximately 21,000 acres in central and northern Wisconsin, making the tart, tiny berry the state’s largest fruit crop.
In 2011, Wisconsin growers harvested approximately 4.3 million barrels of cranberries — more than half of the entire world’s supply of cranberries.
According to a University of Wisconsin report, the state cranberry industry has an annual economic impact of $300 million and supports 3,400 local jobs.
WSCGA is one of many Wisconsin agricultural groups participating in the 2012 AgDay at the Capitol on February 8, 2012.
WSCGA is a member-based organization designed to cultivate Wisconsin’s cranberry industry and support its growers through useful educational resources, responsible environmental stewardship, sound governmental policies and effective public communications.
The association was founded 125 years ago to serve the needs of the state’s cranberry growers and is committed to developing and implementing programs that assist growers in doing a better job of growing cranberries and strengthening public support for cranberry growing in Wisconsin.
For more information, visit www.wiscran.org. WSCGA is also on Facebook and Twitter.