(Aug. 16) U.S. cranberry production is expected to be up 6% this year, but high demand should keep markets strong, grower-shippers and industry officials said.

About 6.64 million barrels of cranberries will ship this year, predicts the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service in a report released Aug. 15. That’s up from 6.24 million barrels in 2005 and 6.18 million barrels in 2004.

Only about 6% to 8% of all cranberries grown in the U.S. go to the fresh market, said David Farrimond, general manager of the Cranberry Marketing Committee, Wareham, Mass.

Production is projected to be up in Massachusetts, Oregon and Wisconsin but down in New Jersey and Washington, according to the report.

Wisconsin is on track for a record crop, with 3.75 million barrels expected, 2% more than last year and 14% higher than in 2004. The second-biggest crop will come from Massachusetts, with 1.75 million barrels expected, up 23% from last year but 3% below 2004.

New acreage is driving the higher yields from Wisconsin, while Massachusetts has benefited from timely rains, Farrimond said. “Quality looks good, but from what I’ve heard from growers, there are some concerns that some berries might be smaller than people like to see,” he said.

Concerns about size and color could delay the start of the deal in Oregon, the fourth-biggest producing state, by a couple of weeks, Farrimond said. About 485,000 barrels of cranberries are expected to ship from Oregon, up from 440,000 last year but down from 495,000 in 2004.

“The crop looks fairly good, a little better than last year,” said Alex Ells, president of Blanco Bogs Inc., Port Orford, Ore. “Some growers were worried about size, but it seems to be sizing up.”