Gov. Maura Healey recently declared October “Massachusetts Cranberry Month,” and industry experts are taking the opportunity to share some of the challenges facing cranberry bogs across the state.
Massachusetts is home to roughly 12,000 acres of commercial cranberry bogs, which generate more than $1.7 billion in annual revenue.
At the UMass Amherst cranberry station, researchers are concerned with how climate change is impacting the industry, as well as a disease known as “cranberry fruit rot.” They've received a major grant to find solutions to this longstanding issue, which spreads fungus inside bogs and can spoil entire crops.
“Rot is a major problem because once fruits are rotted, that is a quality concern and growers cannot sell the produce if rot levels are beyond 20%,” said Leela Uppala, assistant professor of plant pathology. “So, we see truckloads getting rejected by handlers. They cannot take the produce because that will clog the machines that process the berries.”
Harvesting at UMass Amherst’s state bog began last week. Massachusetts is responsible for one-third of the nation’s cranberry supply.