How Wisconsin Became the Cranberry Capital of the World

By Christina Lorey

October 12, 2022

Did You Know: The humble cranberry was named the official state fruit in 2004? Wisconsin currently produces more than half of the world’s supply!

Not only does that make Wisconsin the largest producer of cranberries in the country—Massachusetts comes in at a distant second with 1.89 million barrels—but every year, local farmers ultimately deliver more than 50% of the world’s supply.

“More than half the entire world’s supply of cranberries are grown on Wisconsin family farms, generating $1 billion in economic impact and providing thousands of local jobs across the Badger state, so it is always good news beyond just our growers when the crop looks solid,” said Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. “We now hope Mother Nature continues to cooperate, and we get some cool fall nights for the berries to reach their dark red color, and then on to harvest, our favorite time of the year.”

Here are a few things you might not know about the state fruit:

How They Grow

While many people envision cranberries floating in pools of water, they actually grow in marshes. Only when it’s time for harvest do farmers flood the bogs with water, releasing the berries from their vines.

Why They Float

Cranberries are nearly 90% water and have small pockets of air inside of them, which causes them to easily float.

Why They Grow So Well Here

According to Matt Lippert, agricultural agent for UW-Extension, cranberries need lots of water and low pH soils to grow. You’ll find an abundance of both in central and northern Wisconsin. Monroe County, near Warrens, has the highest concentration of cranberry farms, but there are plenty of other farms in Wood County (especially between Wisconsin Rapids and Babcock), as well as the northern counties of Vilas, Oneida and Price.

Why They’re Good for You

Cranberries are packed with Vitamin C, which is great for your skin, muscles, and bones. They also contain high levels of manganese, which boosts your metabolism, and antioxidants, which lower your risk for disease.

How They Help Our Economy

More than 7,000 people work in Wisconsin’s cranberry industry, which brings in upwards of $330 million each year.

When They’re Harvested

Cranberry season runs through the end of October. Click here for Travel Wisconsin’s Top 4 Cranberry Tours, and plan your trip today!


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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