State's fruit crops lower in 2015

Ray Mueller
Now Media Group


As the 2016 fruit crops for which production statistics are compiled in Wisconsin, the state's field office of the National Agriculture Statistics Service has reported the numbers for tart cherries, apples and cranberries harvested in 2015.

Tart cherries, for which this year's harvest will begin within a few days, had a total production of 9.3 million pounds in 2015. That was a decrease of 24 percent from 2014.

Cherry growers conducted a harvest on 1,700 acres in 2015 — down by 100 acres from 2014. The average yield of 5,470 pounds per acre was down from 6,830 pounds in 2014. About 94 percent of the production went into processed cherries while much of the remainder was for fresh market sales such as pick your own or already picked.

Despite the setback in production, the average overall sales price fell from 39.4 cents per pound in 2014 to 33.1 cents in 2015. The $3.049 million of the utilized tart cherry crop in 2015 was down by 37 percent from the $4.808 million in 2014.

During 2015, Michigan accounted for 62 percent of the nation's tart cherry production with 158 of the 252.5 million pounds. The value of the nation's crop fell to $80.037 million in 2015 compared to $106.81 million in 2014.

Apples fall by 5 percent

From an estimated 4,000 acres, unchanged from 2014, the state's apple growers harvested 51 million pounds in 2015. That was down by 5 percent from the 48.1 million pounds harvested in 2014.

The average yield per acre of 12,900 pounds was down from 13,500 pounds in 2014. The price per pound dropped from 61.2 cents in 2014 to 57.8 cents in 2015. The value of utilized production was down by 11 percent to $27.8 million in 2015.

Production in the United States during 2015 was down by 15 percent to just under 10.004 billion pounds. With 995 million pounds, Michigan led the Midwestern states in apple production for 2015 while Washington continued to account for the major share of the nation's total.

Cranberry dominance

Despite a 3 percent cutback in 2015, Wisconsin maintained its No. 1 ranking among states with 57 percent of the nation's cranberry production. The state's total of 4.856 million barrels was down from the 5.022 million in 2014.

The 20,200 harvested acres in 2015 was a drop of 500 from the previous year. The average yield of 237 barrels per acre was 3 barrels less than in 2014.

With a price increase of $2.60 per barrel to $30.50 in 2015, the value of the state's production rose to $146.396 million in 2015 — an increase of 6 percent from 2014.

The national cranberry production crept up to 8.563 million barrels in 2015. Massachusetts was one of the states posting an increase, but its total of 2.352 million barrels was less than one half of Wisconsin's volume.