MADISON — Wisconsin apple growers had a productive year in 2017, but cranberry and tart cherry producers faced more challenges.
Data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service found apple production increased almost 20 percent in the state between 2016 and 2017, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
The 2017 spring weather helped apple growers recover, producing 49 million pounds of apples, said Amaya Atucha, a fruit crop specialist for University of Wisconsin-Extension. Production could continue to rise this year, she said.
“A lot of the orchards are going through the process of renovation and changing their production systems to a more high-density system, which are much more productive,” Atucha said.
But Wisconsin produced 12 percent fewer barrels of cranberries last year than in 2016. The state’s tart cherries also saw a 17 percent decline.
Production levels dropped due to a 2016 spring frost, Atucha said. Cherry producers in Wisconsin and across the U.S. are also battling an invasive pest called the spotted wing drosophila, she said.
Cranberry prices have been below the cost of production, which has led many growers to upgrade their beds, Atucha said.
“Some of the growers are taking out of production older varieties, and that basically means that, by renewing, you have a couple of years where you don’t have any production,” Atucha said.