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By sean teehan
steehan@capecodonline.com
October 01, 2011
 
Turns out cranberries and people have something in common.

Cranberries thrive in the same kind of summer weather that most humans prefer: warm, without surpassing 85 degrees and rain every now and then to break the humidity.

This past summer, conditions matched those preferences closely enough to yield a particularly robust cranberry harvest this year, according to one local expert.

"If (the harvest) comes in according to predictions, it would be our second biggest harvest on record," said Hilary Sandler, a cranberry specialist at the UMass Cranberry Station in East Wareham.

Experts are projecting the crop will reach about 2.1 million in Massachusetts , Sandler said. The United States as a whole is predicted to get a 7.5-million barrel harvest, which would be the country's second largest recorded harvest.

A barrel, or 100 pounds of cranberries, costs an average of $20 to $25 for growers to produce, Sandler said.

Massachusetts' projected harvest amounts to an 11 percent increase over last year's, Sandler said.

Lately, however, nighttime temperatures have been higher than those at which cranberries best develop their color, Sandler said.

Cranberries depend on cool nights in the 40s or 50s to turn from a whitish-green color to their patented red hue, but recent nights have reached the 60s.

A robust harvest like the one predicted this year could also prove difficult for cranberry growers, Sandler said.

"The more product that is out there, it does depress the price," Sandler said.

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