Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cranberry Growers Wish Berries Weren't Just a Seasonal Delight

Bill Wagner
Washington State University
A worker at Cranguyma Farms in Long Beach, Washington, uses a wooden paddle to keep floating cranberries moving.

One out of every five cranberries grown in the U.S. is eaten Thanksgiving week, according to industry giant Ocean Spray. Here in the Northwest, some cranberry farmers hope to convince Americans to eat more berries year-round.

You probably aren't a real cranberry farmer unless you eat a fair share yourself.

"We make them into our own sauce. We use them in salads, cranberry bread. We eat a lot of cranberries,” said Scott McKenzie, who has been harvesting the berries for nearly 20 years on his coastal farm near Port Orford, Oregon.

McKenzie says most Northwest growers had a fairly average yield this year, slightly down from last year, and a robust national harvest kept prices fairly modest.

McKenzie says farmers like him sell most of their berries for processing for products like juice and canned sauces. But he says more growers are trying to sell their berries in the produce section where they typically fetch a higher price.

"I think that's going to be a bigger part of what we do here in Oregon over the next few years,” McKenzie said.

Oregon and Washington are among the nation's top five cranberry producing states. But the region's output is tiny compared to the leaders: Wisconsin, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.