United Cranberry Blog
I’ve been hiding out and not posting. After last year’s terrible crop almost everywhere, it is easy to be optimistic about this year’s crop. I mean, seriously, can Mother Nature hit us three years running?
We are seriously hoping for some seasonal averages here in WI. How is your sprinkler coverage? Here are a few photos from up top…the camera doesn’t lie.
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Here we are on October 25th and the old saying “big crops get bigger and small crops get smaller” seem to be coming true in WI. There are stories about the northern marshes being down 40-50%. In the Warrens area I know of one grower that went from a 400 bbl average to 300. And another that went from 300 bbl average to 210bbl. The receiving stations are looking for fruit. I’ve only heard of two growers whose crops that are even or up from last year.
Obviously we won’t know for a couple more weeks.
The CMC estimate from last August was a WI crop estimate of 5,200,000 bbls. If we are off 20% that is a solid 1,040,000 bbls of fruit. That is the equivalent of 52,000,000 lbs or 1300 container loads of dried cranberries. And a lot of concentrate. (My estimates. Take it for what it is worth)
I haven’t heard much from other regions, but due to the sheer size of the WI crop, they would all have to be up 30-40% to make up for WI.
This is going to get very interesting.
A couple more
This is not an average crop in WI. Pretty disappointing.
It has been a long time since I’ve been compelled to post. But this WI crop is a major disappointment.
Read it Here
sorry all, the link wouldn’t post, so look in the uscranberries.com website, under industry reports.
The Secretary of Agriculture has signed the marketing order as it was proposed in the Federal Register. Here
They voted in August 2017 for a Handler set aside for the 2017 crop and a producer allotment for the 2018 crop.
The USDA Secretary of Agriculture enacted (finally!) a Handler set aside of 15% for the 2017 crop. My understanding is that many of the handlers were exempt from that set aside. The 2018 producer allotment was proposed in the Federal Register on 4/27/18 and the comment period ended 5/29/18. Still no word from the Secretary on a final rule. Cranberry Harvest in Wisconsin begins in less than 60 days. What in the heck are they waiting for? Tick tock.
My thoughts are that the USDA stepped in it when they tied the two different kinds of actions (handler and producer) together by saying essentially, if you are a handler and you were exempt in 2017, you are exempt in 2018. Problem is, the 2018 is a producer allotment, a totally different regulation than the 2017 handler set aside. So the USDA is saying if you are a producer and you deliver to a handler who was exempt in 2017 then you as a grower are exempt in 2018. Wow. Clear as mud.
Here is a clear, simple solution. Enact a 2018 Handler set aside of 15% ( a lower amount, since mother nature did HER part with the 2017 crop). If handlers have no carryover, ie frozen fruit or concentrate in freezer on January 31 then they are exempt. If a handler has an excess of concentrate, let them dispose of 100% of their restricted fruit in concentrate if they want. Yes, the handlers will yell that they bear the costs of disposal but everyone knows the disposal will be in sort outs and concentrate which will have the added benefit of decreasing the inventory of concentrate which EVERYONE knows is 99% of the problem. Come on, just do it.
Or, do you have a better idea?? it’s probably too late to make suggestions, but why not? The Secretary can basically do whatever he wants regardless of what he proposed in the Federal Register.
I keep seeing new acres going in….some new beds being constructed and some renovations. I get it. Every farmer’s goal in life is to have the highest production for the lowest annual costs. Efficiency. But lets think about the industry and this thing called supply and demand.
*The industry’s sales growth over the past 18-20 years has been averaging 1-2% a year. (According to CMC charts, in barrels)
*A 1% growth in acreage on an 80 acre marsh is .8 acre/year. Save them up and renovate a 4 acre bed every 5 years. 1000 acre marsh is 10 acres a year.
*if you are planting/renovating varieties with average production at the rate of 1-2%a year, then you’re keeping up with the sales increase. A reasonable thing to do.
*if you are planting/renovating new varieties with double the average production, at more than the rate of 1-2% a year, you are contributing to the oversupply. Why?
*the smallish 2017 crop is proof that supply matters. Prices are up in SDCS and concentrate. These increases had little to do with the 2017 marketing order as little fruit has been disposed of yet. Thank you Mother Nature.
One thing I will ALWAYs do from here on out is pay attention to the CMC numbers and the amount of carry-out inventory. In the chart below, it is easy to see why, finally, the CMC voted for a marketing order in both 1999 and 2016 for ensuing crops. In my mind, the correct percentage of carry out is between 50 and 75%. Lower than that and we won’t have product to grow markets, above 75% gets us low prices. And above 100% is just dumb. The CMC estimates that with a set aside we will get to the low 80% range. We should all be thankful that the CMC had the courage to recognize the problem and do something. The USDA has not signed the final order and the proposed order has some issues BUT, it should get us closer to the desirable inventory levels.
It is up to us growers to pay attention and exercise some restraint in our planting /renovations.
After a quick read, the USDA is proposing the same exemption as the 2017, so if you handle 125,000 bbls or less or don’t have any carryover you are exempt. The comment period is 30 days.
Graceland Fruit Announces Wisconsin Expansion
Addition of State-of-the-art Production Facility Provides
30 Percent Increase in Manufacturing Capacity
Frankfort, MI. April 27, 2018 – Graceland Fruit, a global leader in the production of dried fruit, announces the expansion of its operations through an alliance with Wisconsin-based Cranberry Growers Cooperative (CranGrow) that allows it to staff and operate a new, state-of-the-art processing plant in Warrens, Wisconsin.
Graceland Fruit purchases Wisconsin cranberries to manufacture dried cranberries in its Frankfort, Michigan facilities. The overwhelming success of global sales of its dried cranberries has led to demand outpacing its current production capacity. The CranGrow alliance provides Graceland Fruit with increased manufacturing capacity to support its global growth plans and provides CranGrow members/growers access to worldwide markets through Graceland Fruit’s well-established sales network.
“We have established invaluable relationships in the marketplace, as well as a strong sales force that has resulted in demand outpacing our current manufacturing capacity. In 2017, CranGrow opened a new, modern production facility, and will benefit from a more established market. So, it made sense to work together to meet mutual goals,” said Graceland Fruit CEO Al DeVore.
DeVore said Graceland Fruit’s manufacturing capacity will increase by approximately 30 percent with the addition of the 50,000 square foot Warrens processing facility. Graceland now boasts 285,000 square feet of manufacturing space combined in Warrens and Frankfort.
CranGrow will remain an independent grower cooperative that supplies Graceland Fruit. All 61 current CranGrow employees at the Warrens facility will become Graceland Fruit employees, increasing the company’s total employment to approximately 275.
“We’re excited to begin this alliance that will greatly benefit both CranGrow and Graceland Fruit,” said CranGrow Board Chair Linda Prehn. “Graceland Fruit is a world leader in the production of dried cranberries. By combining our resources in Wisconsin with Graceland’s manufacturing expertise and global sales network, we are establishing a solid future for growers, employees and the community.”
Graceland Fruit and CranGrow have been working together to create a seamless transition and integration plan. “Members of Graceland Fruit’s research and development, technical and quality staffs are working hand-in-hand at the Wisconsin facility to assist the team in implementing Graceland Fruit’s rigorous standards – ensuring that the new facility produces the consistent quality customers have come to expect from Graceland Fruit products,” added DeVore.
About Graceland Fruit
With headquarters in Frankfort, Michigan, Graceland Fruit produces and markets dried fruit and other products to over fifty countries worldwide. Its customer base includes some of the largest and most prestigious commercial baking and food companies in the world. The company also markets its branded products to consumers in retail outlets and online. Early innovators of the technology used for drying tart cherries and cranberries, Graceland Fruit has twice been named Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year. Primary product lines include dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries and apples. For more information, visit www.gracelandfruit.com.
About Cranberry Growers Cooperative (CranGrow)
For CranGrow, growing cranberries isn’t just a business, it is a way of life. It was founded by more than 30 Wisconsin cranberry growers passionate about growing cranberries. The growing operations that constitute the cooperative are family-owned and operated farms that have been passed on from generation to generation, several more than 100 years old.
In the Federal Register post today, the folks at the USDA proved that they can listen, but did not hear. The final rule was approved largely as was proposed (and published) in January. All handlers that handle 125,000 barrels or less are exempt, but maybe not if they have carryover inventory? All handlers with no carryover inventory as of 8/31 are exempt. Carryover inventory means inventory that isn’t sold or under contract as of the end of August. 15% of the fruit is restricted and 85% unrestricted. Finished goods (ie concentrate or SDCs VS frozen fruit) can be used for disposal.
My take? In August 2017 the CMC met and discussed at length a proposed regulation. They compromised and put forth a good faith proposal to the USDA. The CMC recommended an order that was fair because all handlers exempted their first 125,000 barrels and the notion of carryover inventory wasn’t considered, because the industry needs carryover inventory. In January 2018 the USDA put forth its’ proposed order. The CMC met again to comment on the proposed order and the USDA listened. The comment period brought forth many comments, and the USDA listened. But did it hear? The final order will definitely tighten cranberry supplies. Mother Nature has already tightened supplies, but this will go further. Clearly the small handlers (but not necessarily the small growers) will not have to dispose of much fruit, if any. Maybe the USDA clarified the carryover inventory issue. But in this case, maybe four or five (my guess) US handlers will bear the brunt of this regulation. Certainly these four represent a far majority of growers, but if this is how the USDA implements a handler set aside, give me a producer allotment version any day.
Hey, I have an idea for the handlers….stop making products that customers don’t want…ie concentrate that fills freezers. Retool the plants and the marketing plans to move product. Tell growers to pay attention to what they are planting/renovating.
And to the USDA? By ignoring the message of your grower elected CMC members you put forth a final rule that still has questions and is not really fair. I can’t wait to see the 2018 proposed rule, due out shortly.
Bobby Chacko was named new CEO and Board member at Spray. Good luck to him.
This article started in the Washington Post and has been picked up by many news outlets. I think most growers know the real story so I won’t elaborate.
I received an email early this am about Cranberries “making the list” but here is a story in the state wide paper Here.