This industry covers establishments primarily engaged in the production of cranberries, strawberries, and bush berries. Agricultural products in this last category include blackberries, blueberries, currants, dewberries, loganberries, boysenberries, and raspberries.
Berry (except Strawberry) Farming
The berry industry in the United States has a history as old as the continent. Native American peoples relied heavily on certain berries as a staple in their diet and passed on their knowledge of the fruit to the first European colonists. The production of cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries is a profitable agricultural enterprise that began in the early nineteenth century. In more recent decades, the industry has been dominated by large commercial farms, particularly in states like California, Oregon, and Washington. Research and development factors have become an influential element in the industry, as increasingly larger berry-growing companies employ scientists who work to genetically improve the fruit. Researchers also strive to combat the possible side effects of one uncontrollable factor—the weather. A late spring frost can seriously damage a farm's entire harvest.
Fluctuations in consumer preferences also play a significant role in the industry. For instance, cranberries—fruit indigenous to North America—enjoyed a surge in popularity throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s. Wisconsin is the leader in cranberry production, followed by Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. In 2002, farmers harvested 36,400 acres, which yielded 5.68 million barrels. The average yield per acre was 155 barrels. Cranberry production in 2003 was forecasted to reach 5.83 billion barrels.
Production of strawberries, the largest segment of this classification, is led by the state of California, which produces nearly 80 percent of the nation's entire berry crop and nearly 10 percent of the world's annual supply. An estimated 1.6 billion pounds, worth roughly $1.08 billion, went to market in 2001. Per capita consumption of strawberries reached a record 6.6 pounds in 2002.
Production of blueberries, cultivated blackberries, boysenberries, loganberries, and raspberries all declined between 2002 and 2003. However, the value of production of cultivated blackberries rose from $21.8 million to $31.4 million. The value of production of blueberries grew from $20.0 million to $21.8 million. New Jersey, Michigan, and...