May 17, 2017USDA-backed cranberry research station set for Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Cranberry Research & Education Foundation (WCREF) announced May 15 it is purchasing approximately 155 acres of land to host a new state-of-the-art, USDA-supported cranberry research station in Jackson County, Wisconsin.
According to a news release, research conducted at the station will develop and refine cranberry growing practices to improve crop yield and quality, support the industry’s economic sustainability, minimize environmental impacts, and best manage pests and disease to benefit a nearly $1 billion state industry that supports almost 4,000 Wisconsin jobs.
The property, formerly Robinson Creek Cranberry, is being purchased through private contributions to a capital campaign, as well as Federal funds provided to the USDA Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) through the efforts of U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Sean Duffy.
“We are thrilled to have identified the site for a world-class cranberry research station for Wisconsin,” said Bill Wolfe, president of the WCREF Board of Directors. “This is a major milestone in a long-term project that will immensely benefit current and future Wisconsin cranberry growers and the industry as a whole.”
WCREF will start renovations later this year and research work on the property will begin in 2018. Once complete, the research station will feature experimental beds, researcher work space and a central location for field days, clinics, trades hows and other educational workshops for the industry.
The station property will also host a producing cranberry marsh with its annual crop yield helping to offset operational costs.
Despite being the largest cranberry producing state nationwide for nearly 20 years, Wisconsin was without a cranberry research station. Through concerted efforts by Senator Baldwin and Representative Duffy, federal funding via the federal budget helped get the project off the ground.
“We would like to thank our state Congressional leaders as well as the USDA Agricultural Research Service and dozens of individuals who generously contributed to our capital campaign,” said Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. “This support will ensure necessary research in our growing conditions in order to maintain our leadership position, significant economic impact and sustainable and progressive agricultural practices in Wisconsin. We also want to thank the Bible family for working with us to make the station a reality.”
Congressman Sean Duffy, R-Wisc., Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing & Insurance, congratulated WCREF on its announcement that it is purchasing more than 150 acres to host a new USDA-supported cranberry research station in Jackson County.
“Congratulations to WCREF on its plans to build a new cranberry research station, because one of our state’s most important industries deserves the latest in research and development,” Duffy said. Wisconsin is the number one cranberry producer in America, and its presence is felt around the world. I will continue to fight to ensure that we find markets for Wisconsin cranberries abroad and remain America’s top producer for years to come.”
Research at the station will be conducted by USDA ARS scientists and University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty, and will be coordinated nationally with researchers in other growing regions.
Robinson Creek Cranberry, which dates back to the 1930s, is being sold by Jim Bible, an Ocean Spray Cooperative grower. Bible will continue as a grower, as he owns several other properties in the region.
WCREF was established in 1999 by WSCGA to provide professional education to cranberry growers, develop a research facility for scientific research related to the horticulture of cranberries and to research and develop best management practices designed to minimize environmental impacts of cranberry production. The Foundation is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a tax exempt 501(c) (3) charitable institution.