Dec 30, 2011Wisconsin cranberry growers looking for research center funding
The members of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA) and researchers at the University of Wisconsin have wanted a dedicated cranberry research station for more than 20 years, said Tom Lochner, WSCGA’s executive director.
“We have a pretty good idea what we’d want,” he said. “The only issue is trying to get funding for it.”
If that funding were to ever materialize, WSCGA has a couple of options for moving forward. One option is to get a grower to set aside 20 to 30 acres on a pre-existing farm and provide resources to the owner of the farm for the usage. But not many growers can spare that kind of land, Lochner said.
Some field research is done on working farms, but it’s limited, Lochner said.
“There are lots of trials and experiments that USDA or university researchers would like to do,” he said. “Trials and experiments that could cause yields to go down or crops to be unusable. You can’t ask a grower to take that kind of loss.”
Another plan Lochner is more in favor of involves securing a new research farm. This plan would call for development of a site that would generate crops solely for research, as well as a crop grown just for the purpose of supporting the facility financially. Ideally, the farm would be located in central Wisconsin, around the Wisconsin Rapids area, as two-thirds of the state’s cranberry crop is grown in that region.
“Funding is going to be the challenge,” Lochner said. “A public partnership with the private sector is probably the only way this is going to work.”
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