Business is booming.

Is YOUR Thanksgiving under threat? Extreme drought hits Massachusetts cranberry harvest

Is YOUR Thanksgiving Threatened? Massachusetts cranberry crop is plagued by extreme drought as climate change plagues $1 billion industry

  • Extreme drought in Massachusetts threatens cranberry crop, potentially endangers Thanksgiving cranberry sauce
  • Farmers have felt the impact of massive weather changes in recent years, from soggy storms to extreme heat
  • ‘We’ve had so much dry heat that people’s water is completely gone. It will be a difficult harvest for many people,” said a farmer
  • The cranberry industry provides 7,000 jobs and $1 billion to the state

<!–

<!–

<!–<!–

<!–

<!–

<!–

Extreme drought hitting Massachusetts is impacting this year’s cranberry crop — threatening Thanksgiving cranberry sauce and drinks like cosmopolitans — while putting pressure on an industry that contributes $1 billion to the state.

In recent years, farmers have felt the impact of massive weather changes due to climate change. Two massive storms in 2015 and 2017 flooded some cranberry swamps with seawater. A huge amount of rain last year led to pickled crops and a nationwide shortage.

This year, extremely dry conditions started in late spring and didn’t stop. Ten of the 14 counties in the state experienced extreme drought, and the rest were categorized as severe in August.

“The boom-of-bust scenario that presents climate change when it comes to precipitation events — the boom is the big precipitation event, the busts are long dry spells — that’s not a good thing,” Zachary Zobel, a scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts, told grist.

Extreme drought hitting Massachusetts impacts this year's cranberry crop — threat to Thanksgiving cranberry sauce and drinks like cosmopolitans

Extreme drought hitting Massachusetts impacts this year’s cranberry crop — threat to Thanksgiving cranberry sauce and drinks like cosmopolitans

In recent years, farmers have felt the impact of massive weather changes due to climate change.  Two massive storms in 2015 and 2017 flooded some cranberry swamps with seawater.  Above: Popular cocktails like Cosmopolitans need cranberry juice

In recent years, farmers have felt the impact of massive weather changes due to climate change.  Two massive storms in 2015 and 2017 flooded some cranberry swamps with seawater.  Above: Popular cocktails like Cosmopolitans need cranberry juice

In recent years, farmers have felt the impact of massive weather changes due to climate change. Two massive storms in 2015 and 2017 flooded some cranberry swamps with seawater. Above: Popular cocktails like Cosmopolitans need cranberry juice

According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the cranberry industry provides about 7,000 jobs and $1 billion in annual economic activity in Massachusetts.

Cranberries, grown in Massachusetts since 1816, are also known to be a picky crop. If too much rain falls, mold can form on cranberry vines and affect the color and quality of the fruit. Not enough water means the berries are not growing properly.

Farmers use freshwater to flood fields as a management tool to protect plants from cold, dry winter winds, control pests and remove fallen leaves, the Cape Cod Growers Association states.

The more common use of flooding is for harvesting the berries. The swamps are flooded with up to 12 inches (30 cm) of water, which happens after the cranberries have taken on an ideal color and the water has lost its summer heat.

‘We’ve had so much dry heat that people’s water is completely gone. It’s going to be a tough crop for a lot of people,” Greenwood Hartley III, a Rochester resident and member of the Select Board who farms locally on 11.5 acres, told Sippican Week.

“We get these extreme weather events because the weather is changing where it’s warmer than usual or rainier than usual,” he added. ‘It is difficult for every farmer. Everyone is having a really hard time.’

Farmers have about a month before the harvest really starts and the drought has eased a bit lately, but they’re not completely out of the woods yet.

“We’ll see what we get for rain in the coming weeks,” Brian Wick, executive director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, told the environmental news channel.

“The cranberries in Massachusetts will continue to do well, but it’s getting more challenging and difficult, and they’re going to have to adapt.”

“You don’t get such a nice, constant growing season, it just seems like one extreme or the other.”

The cranberry industry contributes to about 7,000 jobs and $1 billion in annual economic activity in Massachusetts, according to the University of Massachusetts Amherst

The cranberry industry contributes to about 7,000 jobs and $1 billion in annual economic activity in Massachusetts, according to the University of Massachusetts Amherst

The cranberry industry contributes to about 7,000 jobs and $1 billion in annual economic activity in Massachusetts, according to the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Cranberries, grown in Massachusetts since 1816, are also known to be a picky crop.  If too much rain falls, mold can form on cranberry vines and affect the color and quality of the fruit.  Not enough water means the berries are not growing well

Cranberries, grown in Massachusetts since 1816, are also known to be a picky crop.  If too much rain falls, mold can form on cranberry vines and affect the color and quality of the fruit.  Not enough water means the berries are not growing well

Cranberries, grown in Massachusetts since 1816, are also known to be a picky crop. If too much rain falls, mold can form on cranberry vines and affect the color and quality of the fruit. Not enough water means the berries are not growing well