LONGVIEW, Wash. – An exceptionally warm summer has brought an exceptionally good crop to the Long Beach Peninsula’s cranberry growers.
Yields are expected to be at record or near-record levels this fall, though that abundance and competition from afar may push prices down, growers and buyers say.
“We’re going to have a good crop, and it could be a record, but we’re not sure until it’s done,” said Steve Kelley, manager for the Ocean Spray receiving station in Long Beach, a cooperative of area growers.
Kim Patten, horticulturist at the Washington State University extension in Long Beach, said a second consecutive year of high yields could drag down prices for this year’s crop.
Some of last year’s crop still is being sold off, but Ocean Spray projects that the 2013 harvest will fetch growers about $57 per 100-pound barrel. This year’s crop is expected to earn $45 a barrel, or 45 cents a pound, said Malcolm McPhail, co-owner of CranMac in Ilwaco.
“We’re going through a dip (in prices) now. We went through one in 1998 that lasted for four or five years, so we’re hoping that will turn around,” McPhail added.
As of a month ago, growers were worried about the dry summer squelching water needed for harvesting, but stormier weather in late September recharged water supplies.
McPhail said cranberries from the peninsula only make up 3 percent of Ocean Spray’s national harvest. Wisconsin, Oregon and New Jersey all produce more than Washington.
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