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Cranberry yield, prices low


Some growers decided to leave crop unharvested


By MITCH LIES


Capital Press


BANDON, Ore. -- A double whammy of low prices and low yields is testing cranberry grower optimism as Southern Coast growers wrap up harvest.


Ted McKenzie said he's down nearly half in the bogs he grows and manages.


"Normally we might get 200 barrels (to the acre)," McKenzie said. "This year, we might get 100.


"It's just going to be a wreck," he said.


"It was just the weather," McKenzie said when asked what shortened his crop.


"Anything and everything that could go wrong, did this year," Coos County horticulture extension agent Linda White said.


Prices also are down. Independents are paying between 15 and 18 cents a pound, McKenzie said, 5 to 10 cents below his cost of production.


Two years ag, growers were pulling upwards of 70 cents a pound for their berries on the independent market.


"It's the deadly double," White said. "Usually when your crop is down, you get a good price, but, unfortunately, not this time."


"This is not a living wage," McKenzie said. "Even big crops at that price, you probably wouldn't make enough to cover your costs."


Some growers have opted to leave bogs unharvested, McKenzie said.


The short crop could play into growers' hands in the future.


Rumors are, cranberry crops are down throughout North America, with floods hurting yields in Wisconsin, scald and rot dropping yields in Massachusetts and rainy cold weather driving down yields on the West Coast.


The hope among growers, White said, is the short crop will drive down what has been a surplus of cranberries the last two years.


About the only other bright spot for cranberry growers this year is quality is up.


"It's good quality," McKenzie said. "What's there is beautiful fruit. There's just not enough of it."



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