Industry experts said the drought will push the harvest out into November, drive up labor costs and put the crop in danger of frost damage. Officials say there’s a possibility that a hard fall freeze could damage the crop before it is harvested.
Cranberries typically are gathered by flooding the bogs, beating the bushes to loosen the fruit and then skimming the berries off the surface. Some Long Beach growers who use that method don’t have enough water to harvest continually because of the unusually dry summer and early fall.
Cranberries are a $2 million industry on the peninsula. About 30 growers produce the bitter fruit for Ocean Spray to make juice and snacks such as Craisins.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent forecast in August, Oregon and Washington growers are expected to increase production this year by about 13 percent. Nationwide, the 2012 cranberry crop is expected to be 7-point-6-8 million barrels, down less than 1 percent from 2011. (AP)