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cranberry crop expected to be record

WISCONSIN RAPIDS -- The long dry summer has raised concerns over how some of Wisconsin's crops will fare this year, particularly corn and wheat. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting a record harvest for cranberries.

Agricultural officials say with an expected 3-point-75 million barrels, Wisconsin may yield the largest cranberry crop ever, topping last year's total of 3- point-66 million. It would also mark the twelfth consecutive year that the Wisconsin has lead the nation, out producing its closest rival, Massachusetts, by two million barrels.

Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, says during the recent drought, cranberry farmers relied on irrigation for their crops.

Lochner says this year's projected boon helps insure Wisconsin a greater standing in the world marketplace. He says in addition to an increase in export sales, there has also been an increase in the popularity of sweet dried cranberries, and those types of products which have helped to increase consumption.

Lochner says demand for cranberries has risen due to increased marketing efforts both here and abroad. He adds research has suggested cranberries can help people ward off heart disease, aging, and cancer, which has boosted its appeal among consumers.