Max Hetze, a fifth-grade student from Rudolph, is the statewide winner of the Ag in the Classroom essay contest. Wisconsin fourth and fifth graders were asked to write a 100-to-300-word essay with the theme, “Tell us about cranberry production in Wisconsin during one of the four seasons.”
Max is the son of David and Teri Hetze. Rochelle Grossbier is his teacher at THINK Academy, part of the Wisconsin Rapids School District.
Each year the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program hosts an essay contest revolving around food and agriculture. This contest is open to Wisconsin fourth and fifth grade students.
A total of 2,818 Wisconsin students wrote essays for the competition sponsored by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation, Insight FS and We Energies.
The finalist from each of Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s nine districts across the state received a certificate, educational resources for their teacher and presentation about Wisconsin agriculture for their class. This year’s finalists include:
Isabel Kuchta, St. Paul’s Lutheran, Fort Atkinson, Jefferson County (District 1)
Katie Gollon, Rio Elementary, Rio, Columbia County (District 2)
Bryce Roelli, Mineral Point Elementary, Mineral Point, Iowa County (District 3)
Amanda Isakson, Cochrane-Fountain City Elementary, Fountain City, Buffalo County (District 4)
Vivian Lucas, St. Mary’s Springs Academy, Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac County (District 5)
Trinity Halseth, Random Lake Elementary, Random Lake, Sheboygan County (District 6)
Hailyn St. Louis, St. Anthony School, Oconto Falls, Oconto County (District 7)
Max Hetze, THINK Academy, Rudolph, Wood County (District 8)
Heather Nelson, Ladysmith Elementary, Ladysmith, Rusk County (District 9)
The Winning Essay:
Growing Cranberries in Wisconsin in the Spring
By Max Hetze
Cranberries are small, red, tangy fruits. They can be made into a lot of different things, including sauce, dried cranberries, juice, just eaten fresh and much more. But there is a long process to making cranberries.
In the spring, cranberry harvesters have to remove the winter flood. In April, May and June, vines come out of dormancy and they can start the growing season. The bog is flooded in mid-May to practice managing insects, weeds, and disease.
A cranberry bog might need to be planted again because it’s not level, or weeds like, briar, poison ivy, or brambles have taken over the cranberry vines. If that happens, big construction equipment needs to move soil, and level the bog to prepare to plant new vines. Growers might also square off the beds to make the operations more efficient.
In April, May, and June, berries come out of dormancy letting the buds change to uprights containing fruit, and flowers. Berries have a temperature tolerance, in which the plant can take damage from frost. The temperature tolerance changes when the plant matures every week during a spring growth spurt. Cranberry farms can lose a whole two years’ income if cranberries have severe frost damage. Automated irrigation systems allow growers to automatically turn on or off irrigation pumps. Sensors are placed among the vines, to monitor temperature or other weather conditions. They can be fully controlled via the internet. These systems can save growers 9,000+ gallons of water per acre on a frost night.
Growing cranberries is a very hard and long process. Cranberry growing isn’t just in the spring. It is a process that continues through all of the seasons. It may be long, but it is definitely worth it in the end.