Wisconsin Briefs: Oversupply challenge for cranberry growers

Wisconsin State Farmer
Wisconsin briefs


Oversupply challenge for cranberry growers

Wisconsin cranberry growers are expected to continue leading the nation in cranberry production this fall. 

Projections released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week say Wisconsin is expected to harvest an estimated 5.6 million barrels of cranberries. That projection is part of the approximately 9 million barrels of cranberries expected nationwide. 

The cranberry industry has been facing a surplus for the past several years. With a large harvest projected again this year, the industry is looking for ways to control a fast-growing inventory and to increase demand by encouraging consumers to eat cranberries throughout the year. 

Executive director Tom Lochner of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association say the Wisconsin cranberry industry brings in nearly $1 billion each year. However, oversupply is a challenge for cranberry growers. 


Electric fences to stop bear crop damage 

Wildlife officials in Wisconsin may use methods such as electric fencing to stop bears from damaging crops. 

Over the last seven years, about 275 farmers have enrolled in a state program that compensates farmers for damage bears cause. Last year's appraised damage was $220,000, Wisconsin Public Radio reported . 

DNR wildlife damage specialist Brad Koele said there are about 28,000 bears across the state. He says problematic bears are typically trapped and relocated, but that finding them all can be challenging. 

Koele said the state is giving more farmers bear hunting permits. The agency also plans to help farmers install electric fences, despite concerns about the fences' effectiveness because of issues such as electrical shorts, he said. 

The crop damage program also applies to elk. The state has paid nearly $250,000 to install fences around five Jackson County cranberry marshes. 

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is testing out using drones to scare away the animals, he said. 


Farm production costs in Wisconsin hold steady 

New figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show production costs for Wisconsin farmers remained steady in 2016. 

The average Wisconsin farm spent nearly $159,000 on feed, labor, machinery, fuel and other items last year. That's just a fraction of 1 percent more than in 2015. 

University of Wisconsin-Extension farm management specialist Kevin Bernhardt tells Wisconsin Public Radio expenses have remained low over the last few years due to falling oil prices. 

Bernhardt says producers also saw more favorable rental rates for farmland last year. He says low commodity prices impact how much landowners can charge for rent. 

Bernhardt says farmers are likely to see a small increase in production expenses this year, as grain and dairy prices start to improve. 


Trio of goats found on highway 

Three stray goats are in the care of the Oshkosh Area Humane Society after being found in Omro off of State 21.  

“They’re actually pretty healthy,” said Cari Tetzlaff, admissions manager for the shelter. “They’re friendly and overall in good physical condition.” 

The trio was found by the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, which posted about the group on its Facebook page.  

For now, the goats are headed to a foster family that operates a hobby farm in the area, Tetzlaff said.  


UW Agronomy/Soils Field Day Scheduled for Aug. 30 

The 2017 UW Agronomy/Soils Field Day will highlight University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension research to help understand and cultivate resilient agricultural systems – systems that recover or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

The event is scheduled for Aug. 30 at the university’s Arlington Agricultural Research Station, N695 Hopkins Rd., Arlington. Registration starts at 8 a.m. at the station’s Public Events Building. 

UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences researchers and UW-Extension specialists will host four tours scheduled throughout the day. Topic-specific tours will depart the Public Events Building at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.

Tour topics include: Building soil health; managing short- and long-term risk in cropping systems; using perennial forages to accomplish diverse goals; designing landscapes for profit, clean water, stable climate and biodiversity and resilient agriculture (lunch topic). 

Lunch will be available on the site for a $5 donation to the Badger Crops Club. During lunch and between tours, attendees can visit exhibits on Apps for Ag, the UW Nutrient and Pest Management Program, the UW Integrated Pest Management Program and SnapPlus, among others.