Washington cranberry farmers have been up to their hips in flooded bogs to harvest the tart red crop for Thanksgiving tables.
ILWACO, Pacific County — Cranberry bogs in Washington state produce solid hues of vibrant red each fall as one of the state’s lesser-known crops is harvested in the months before Thanksgiving.
This year’s estimated crop puts Washington fifth in the U.S. behind Wisconsin and Massachusetts, the two states that produce the bulk of the crop.
Malcolm and Ardell McPhail have operated CranMac Farm for more than 35 years, one of the largest and oldest cranberry farms in Washington. Their harvest of about 1,000 tons of cranberries this year is slightly down from 2015, but Malcolm McPhail says new varieties are increasing the yield per acre from the peat-rich soil on his farm and others.
The resulting surplus nationally has driven prices down, but McPhail says he’s optimistic.
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“It’s nice to grow a healthy crop,” he said, adding, “We hardly eat a meal that we don’t have cranberries.”
Statewide, an August forecast by the National Agricultural Statistics Service projected Washington’s crop at 194,000 barrels or 9,700 tons (a barrel is 100 pounds).
That’s down 2 percent from the previous year.
The national crop was predicted to be 8.59 million barrels, up a bit from 2015.
Massachusetts has been beset by drought and will produce about 15 percent fewer cranberries than last year, the forecast said, but Wisconsin will make up that difference.
New Jersey and Oregon also outproduce Washington in cranberries.