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Putting Knowledge To Work Helps Wisconsin Put Out The Most Cranberries

With 15,000 acres in production, Wisconsin has led the nation in cranberry production for the last two years, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison is becoming the leading source for cranberry information in the nation. Teryl Roper, associate professor and fruit crop extension specialist, has supplied much of that information to the cranberry industry ,while fulfilling his other responsibilities in apples, cherries and berries. For his efforts in research, education and industry relations, Roper has received the 1997 Pound Extension Award.

Before coming to UW-Madison in 1988, Roper was a research associate at the University of California and worked on air pollution in grapes. He received his Ph.D. from Washington State University with a dissertation in carbon partitioning in cherries. Currently his research efforts include carbon partitioning in cranberries.

“Studying how carbon moves through the plant allows us to determine limitations to yield,” said Roper. Wisconsin cranberry marshes produce an average of 180 barrels of cranberries per acre, while some beds produce 400 barrels per acre. One of Roper”s goals is to help producers reach sustained yields of more than 200 barrels per acre in the next five years, with the long-term goal of 400 bushels.

Roper often stresses management fundamentals and yield improvement strategies at the Wisconsin Cranberry School and new grower seminars. He also publishes the Wisconsin Cranberry Crop Management Newsletter and consults with individual growers. The Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association awarded Roper this year”s Service to Industry Award for his outstanding outreach to growers and involvement in the WSCGA Winter Meeting and Trade Show.

Not only is Roper presented with challenges in the cranberry industry, but he also has worked closely with the Wisconsin Apple Growers” Association, and the Wisconsin Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Conference. He has been involved in winter and summer field days, teaching apple growers how to prune large trees and train smaller trees in new orchards. He also works with the Wisconsin Berry Growers” Association and the Wisconsin Tart Cherry Growers” Association, developing a closer relationship to tart cherry growers in Door County.

Recognized as a valuable source of information, Roper has been a speaker at cranberry meetings in Massachusetts, Oregon and Michigan. He has written several pest management extension bulletins and bulletins on growing strawberries, raspberries, pears, cherries, peaches, and plums. His extension bulletins go out to commercial clients and home owners.

In just nine years, Roper has admirably served Wisconsin”s cranberry industry and has strengthened Wisconsin”s agricultural diversity through his concerted efforts in apples, berries and other fruit crops.