That tart red little fruit called the cranberry has been harvested in Wisconsin for centuries. The berries are native to the marshlands of central Wisconsin and are the state's current leading fruit crop, in acreage and value. Of Wisconsin's 72 counties, 17 of them host cranberry farms.

Wood County takes the lead with about 37 percent of the state's cranberry farms. Monroe County is a close second with about 20 percent, and Jackson County is third with 16 percent.

There were 234 cranberry farms total covering 21,514 acres in 2017 in Wisconsin.

  • 1 percent range from 0.1 to 0.9 acres
  • 5 percent range from 1 to 4.9 acres
  • 7 percent range from 5 to 14.9 acres
  • 11 percent range from 15 to 24.9 acres
  • 15 percent range from 25 to 49.9 acres
  • 31 percent range from 50 to 99.9 acres
  • 29 percent range from 100 acres or more

Perhaps the most-evident proof of Wisconsin's dedication to the cranberry is its numerous cranberry festivals held each fall.

  • Warrens Cranberry Festival will be held Sept. 27-29 in Warrens.
  • Stone Lake Cranberry Festival will be held Oct. 5 in Stone Lake.
  • Cran-A-Rama will be held Oct. 5 in Manitowish Waters.
  • Eagle River Cranberry Festival will be held Oct. 5 in Eagle River.

Warrens Cranberry Festival dubs itself "the world's largest cranberry festival." It's a three-day celebration featuring cranberry-marsh tours, arts and crafts, a biggest-berry contest and more. The 2019 event will be the 47th iteration of the annual festival.

Kim Schroeder, general manager of the Warrens Cranberry Festival, said each year the festival hosts about 145,000 attendees. For the town of Warrens, she said, cranberries are a part of life year-round.

"All around us there's nothing but cranberry marshes," she said. "And no matter what end of town you come in you pass by those marshes."

And once travelers enter the town of Warrens, there's more on offer than just the annual festival. Warrens is also home to the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center. Visitors can tour cranberry marshes, interact with exhibits and displays, and learn about the historic importance of cranberries in Wisconsin.

Outside of Warrens, Wisconsinites and state visitors alike can find products made with Wisconsin cranberries in grocery stores and markets. Simply look for the "Made with Wisconsin Cranberries" label on product packages.

Whether it's a cranberry kringle, fresh cranberries, cranberry wine or cran-maple syrup, Wisconsin's state fruit packs a punch, sets taste buds a-tingle and satisfies stomachs the whole year through.

Information compiled from the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2017 Census of Agriculture.

Samantha Loomis is the assistant editor for Agri-View. She writes about the environment, youth in agriculture, livestock and anything else that may happen to cross her desk.