by Sarah Gardner
Marketplace for Monday, November 19, 2012
Cranberry growing has been a tradition in Massachusetts since the 1800's, when sea captains started cultivating the berry to ward off scurvy. Today Massachusetts is No. 2 in cranberry production, second only to Wisconsin. But climate change is forcing growers in the state to re-think their business.
Michael Hogan, CEO of A.D. Makepeace, a large cranberry grower based in Wareham, says for now cranberries are still a viable crop in Massachusetts. But climate change is making it much tougher to grow there.
"We're having warmer springs, we're having higher incidences of pests and fungus and we're having warmer falls when we need to have cooler nights," Hogan says.
Those changing conditions are costing growers like Makepeace money. The company has to use more water to irrigate in the hotter summers, and to cover the berries in spring and fall to protect them from frosts.
They're also spending more on fuel to run irrigation pumps, and have invested heavily in technology to monitor the bogs more closely. It's also meant more fungicides and fruit rot.