ECONOMY

Cranberries at 200: Market changes, drought create a crisis

All is not well in cranberry country this harvesting season, the 200th anniversary of the world's first known commercial cultivation.

A recent task force report found many Massachusetts growers whose families have tended bogs for generations were in "dire straits," facing challenges that include rising production costs, decreasing crop values, changing consumer habits and increasing competition from other U.S. states and Canada.

Adding to the problems is a severe drought that threatens to leave farms without enough water to flood their bogs.

Cranberries remain Massachusetts' top food crop and official state fruit. But it lost bragging rights as the top U.S. producer more than two decades ago and Massachusetts was recently overtaken by Quebec, as well.

The task force says some growers may leave the business.