THREE LAKES - Wisconsin grows nearly two-thirds of the nation's cranberries. This year alone, the USDA predicts that the state will produce 5.6 million barrels. James Lake Farms in Three Lakes will produce 25,000 of those barrels. It's getting ready for the harvest season now.
President of James Lake Farms Inc. John Stauner loves going to work because his office is 124 acres of cranberry marsh.
He can walk through the windy fields. Or take in the stellar view of the water.
The marsh sits next to Thunder Lake in Oneida County. When harvest season comes around, that water is used to flood the fields.
"We take advantage of the fact that cranberries float. They have a hollow part to the berry that's filled with air," said Stauner.
Machines come through and scoop the cranberries up to harvest.
But now, weed control and last applications of fertilizer are the main focus.
Right now the cranberries are green, but they start to redden up in September. In October, it's harvest season.
There are two different markets: the produce market and the ingredient market.
Berries in the ingredient market are detached from vines, frozen and used for sauces and juices. Berries for the produce market are picked using different machines.
"If we're picking for fresh fruit, it's done with a different type of machine known as a picker that very gently picks the berries off as a rake combs through the vines," said Stauner.
Stauner and his crew are out in the marshes to make sure that every cranberry, every cup of juice, and every sauce at Thanksgiving is just right.
"We work out in nature," Stauner says. "We're working in nature in order to grow a crop, and that's very fulfilling."
James Lake Farms uses organic practices. That means they don't use any synthetics like pesticides.