Wisconsin is the leading global producer of cranberries. In the United States alone, Wisconsin growers harvest more 60 percent of the country’s crop. The little red berry, Wisconsin’s official state fruit, is the state’s number one fruit crop, both in size and economic value.
Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water. A perennial plant, cranberries grow on low running vines in sandy bogs and marshes. In Wisconsin, cranberry marshes are flooded with water to aid in harvesting. Because the tart, tiny berries contain a pocket of air, when the marsh is flooded, the berries float to the surface to be picked up by harvesting equipment.
The cranberry, once called “crane berry” by settlers because of its blossom’s resemblance to the sandhill crane, was first harvested in Wisconsin around 1860 by Edward Sacket in Berlin, Wisconsin. Today, more than 250 growers produce cranberries throughout central and northern Wisconsin.