A big day for Cranberry Growers Cooperative….CranGrow

13 Aug

New plant

We had a large crowd in Warrens to celebrate the opening of our new plant!  Thanks to everyone who joined us.  We look forward to the future!

A view from up top over Warrens area…

15 Jul

A few growers are taking the opportunity during this critical oversupply period to renovate beds. Pretty sure they aren’t planting native varieties! If you think a volume regulation on its own will correct the situation, think again. We need to really think this through people.  And please before anyone jumps on me for singling out these growers, I’m not. I don’t know whose marsh these photos came from so don’t ask. Growers are out to efficiently grow cranberries, that is what we do. Renovating a poor bed and putting in hybrids is going to happen, and can make a lot of sense.  Question is, are we asking for a VR at the same time we are encouraging, or in some cases incentivizing, renovation??

Volume regulation: handler withhold for this 2017 crop

8 Jul

Looking back at my New Years post and my pre-CMC February post, it seems that I was right on…huge crop and we did nothing about it. Now here we are in July talking about a handler set aside of 25% for this years crop. We could have saved a lot of growers a lot of $$ if we had that vote in February.   

Growers please post here or email me if you have a thought on this issue. We need to get this right and have our concerns heard. Oh and BTW, I’m hearing and thinking that we will need another 25% producer allotment on the 2018 and 2019 crops as well.  Yikes!  I have to say that I’m glad we are finally talking about it, but go back and read my previous posts…..I can’t see how independents can support this while a certain large handler keeps allowing their members to plant new hybrids. We ALL know that in a producer allotment year, growers will take advantage of the situation to renovate beds. That will just prolong and accelerate the supply situation. Comments anyone?

Thoughts pre-CMC meeting

18 Jan

It is that time of year again when I grapple with the thought…should I stay or should I go..to the CMC.  It always seems like such an exercise in frustration.  

My question for this year?  Why do we report frozen berries, finished goods AND concentrate?  Why don’t we just report frozen whole berries in the freezer? I’ve never seen where the corn guys report how much is in ethanol inventories, or how much is in corn chips in the warehouse.  We don’t break out organic, or seeds.  When producers have so much varied finished products with so many different processes and yields, I think we need to keep it simple.  

 I realize that the inventory of frozen fruit keeps going up, but it is the only thing that we growers actually grow.  We don’t grow concentrate and we don’t grow SDCS or seeds.  Those are all manufactured goods by some 20 handlers.  Reporting their finished goods inventory just doesn’t make sense to me.  And I actually think it gives one handler an edge on the rest of the handlers.

So I’d like to talk about that at the CMC.  I know there is a reason why we do this and how we got to this place, so please someone fill me in.  Thanks!

Happy New Year 2017!

9 Jan

What will the new year bring to the cranberry industry?  We growers delivered one heck of a crop to our handlers…the final numbers will be delivered shortly.  The CMC will have a look at these numbers in February.  Their consideration of a grower volume regulation or hander set aside will probably be discussed as we, in all likelihood have a full year’s supply of cranberries in the freezer.

I could support a volume regulation in a couple of situations.

Planting and renovation of beds into hybrids has to stop.  I don’t know how to make that happen, but I suspect lower prices will curtail that activity for most everyone.  Almost all independents don’t have the cash to build new beds, buy hybrids vines or take an existing bed out of production.  I can’t imagine the need for any new bed construction as most growers could renovate an old bed.  And I can’t see the need for more cranberries, so renovations aren’t necessary.  I can hear the yelling from growers as I type! What? You can’t keep me from renovating?  No, I can’t.  But with the size of the crops that we produce, I think that all growers should hit the pause button for a few years until we catch up with sales.  Handlers that have too much fruit should reach out to those with too little and move some fruit around.  Lets use it up and move it out.  

I’d like to see the auction of concentrate either include every ounce of concentrate produced OR ended.  Again, I don’t know how that happens.  I had a concentrate customer tell me that every time he bid at the auction his price went up.  He learned very quickly to stay out of the auction and buy afterwards.  If this guy figured it out, others have as well.  It seems to me that customers use the auction as a weapon…and unless a customer has to go to the auction, they won’t. So, could we consider an industry wide auction?  Or eliminating it all together?

I’m thinking too, if we did a regulation that we do it with whole fruit, not some concentrate equivalent.  I’m not sure that across all handlers we have an equal playing field when it comes to equivalents.  So, for that reason I’d do whole fruit, and I think too I could support a grower regulation so we don’t (in theory) grow them and incur all those costs.  

Those are my thoughts.  What are yours?  Many of the CMC members read this blog, so your thoughts will be heard!(Disclaimer: I am not, and never have been a CMC member, so if I got the terminology wrong, my apologies.)

Wisconsin has a big crop! Now what?

18 Oct

So it is that time of year when independent growers in Wisconsin are finishing up their harvest and waiting to hear from their handlers what their projected price and payment terms will be. Usually that comes out in November when handlers make their first payment.

Due to a new player on the block, Cranberry Growers Cooperative or CranGrow,the independent world in Wisconsin is changing. Prices are coming up because handlers surprisingly “can pay a little more.”  One handler is reportedly using a one year bonus as a way to get growers to renew their contracts, with no future guarantees or incentives. 
I think independent handlers around here are a little concerned about their cheap, below cost of production raw material and worried that CranGrow might offer growers an alternative: a way to make a reasonable return for their crop and real ownership in the process.   And since there are three independent dryers in Wisconsin with a need for whole fruit, things could get interesting.

Growers need to take an active role in determining their future.  A pretty smart guy once told me that independents were being handled by their handlers.  Enough is enough.  It’s time for a change. 

Harvest in Wisconsin

10 Oct




We are in the thick of harvest in Wisconsin.  So far it looks like a good crop. As big as the 5.8mm bbls predicted? Hard to say at this point.  We will know more in another week, as some growers haven’t started yet.  There are reports of significant rot in the first couple of weeks, but how widespread it is…can’t tell.  Personally we had one bed that had some significant rot, but the rest seems to be holding up just fine.  These are photos from all over the Warrens area, don’t necessarily know whose marsh they are.  the swans are from next door to our marsh, they were visiting for the day.

Harvest has started in Wisconsin and it looks beautiful!

14 Sep