Bill Wagner | The Daily News
A sea of red floating cranberries compresses tighter and smaller on Friday as workers at Frank Glenn’s Evergreen Farms on the Long Beach Peninsula bring in the surrounding boom boards and push the berries toward an underwater pump with sucks them out of the bog and into a waiting truck. They are then delivered to the Ocean Spray receiving station on the peninsula. With a dry summer and early fall, water for the harvest is a concern.
Bill Wagner | The Daily News
On Friday, Evergreen Farms on Long Beach Peninsula in Washington state pumps massive amounts of water from its 40-acre lake to flood the individual bogs to float the harvested cranberries. The water is then recycled through drainage channels back to the lake to be used to harvest other bogs.
The dry fall weather has delayed the cranberry crop on the Long Beach Peninsula, and growers are keeping an eye on their bogs to ensure they have enough water to harvest.
Industry experts say the drought will push some harvests out into November, drive up labor costs and put the crop in danger of frost damage, the Longview Daily News reported Saturday.
“It makes it more expensive because instead of getting the crop in in two weeks, you get it in on and off,” Kim Patten of the Washington State University Long Beach extension told the newspaper.
For dry harvesters, such as those who operate in Grayland, however, the dry weather “is a godsend” during the harvest season, Patten said.
Patten says there’s a possibility that a hard fall freeze could damage the crop before it is harvested.
Cranberries in wet bogs typically are gathered by flooding the bogs, beating the bushes to loosen the fruit and then skimming the berries off the surface. Some Long Beach growers who use this method don’t have enough water to harvest continually because of the unusually dry summer and early fall, Patten said.
“You have to wait for the system to recharge — two or three days or longer between beds,” she told the Daily News.
Cranberries are a $2 million industry on the peninsula. About 30 growers produce the bitter fruit for Ocean Spray to make juice and snacks such as Craisins.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent forecast in August, Oregon and Washington growers are expected to increase production this year by about 13 percent. Nationwide, the 2012 cranberry crop is expected to be 7.68 million barrels, down less than one percent from 2011.
Frank Glenn, who owns Evergreen Farm in Long Beach, was one of the few Long Beach growers who started harvesting this week. He’s worried about having enough water later in the season to protect the fruit from the cold.
“It affects the harvesting, because you have to be really careful with the water you have,” Glenn told the newspaper.
Glenn, who started farming bogs in 1965, is optimistic about a plentiful harvest, despite the drought conditions.
He said he drew water from his 40-acre pond to make up for the lack of late summer rain.
“I’m hoping that the crop turns out to be as good as it’s been so far,” he said.