California cherry crop late; tree fruit volume smaller
A late California crop means there could be overlap with the start of the Northwest cherry season.
As of the first week of May, California’s sweet cherry crop looks to be around the same volume as last year—about 8 million boxes—but the crop is later than normal, which means potential for an overlap with the Northwest cherry districts. “The size of the overlap depends on how late the Northwest will be,” said Jim Culbertson of the California Cherry Advisory Board. “We’ve shared some of the same cool, spring weather patterns that the Northwest has had, with the first week of May really being the first warm week we’ve for some time.”
Last year, the first fumigation for export cherries to Japan occurred on April 21. This year, he said the first was April 28. Receiver reports from exporters are starting to trickle in, he said, adding that they have generally been favorable.
Bing cherries in northern California, by May 6, were still hard and green and were not damaged by late April rain. He said that California cherry shippers won’t start to ramp up until the end of the first full week of June. Volume could well run through June 15 and even to the following week. Early varieties in the Bakersfield area received some wind and rain damage, but overall, he said the crop looks to be good quality.
“But we have a challenging year ahead of us,” Culbertson said, referring to overlap with the Northwest that could be more significant than the past few years. “Hopefully, the Northwest doesn’t get pulled down from this.”
The first official crop estimate for Northwest cherries will be released during the Five-State cherry meeting on May 19 when growers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Utah gather in Pasco, Washington, to review the crop.
California tree fruit
The 2010 crop estimates for California peaches, nectarines, and plums were released April 30 by state marketing committees and boards of California peaches, nectarines, and plums. The industry expects a total crop size of 46.8 million boxes, down from last year’s 49.6 million boxes.
“The end of the 2009 season created a more balanced supply in the market, and a healthier industry, which is a great platform from which to move forward,” Gary Van Sickle, president of the California Tree Fruit Agreement, stated in a news release.
The 2010 crop is smaller due to several years of acreage pullouts as the industry balances supply and demand as well as weather challenges of hail and wind damage. Peaches for the coming season are estimated at 21.9 million boxes, with 8.7 million boxes of plums, and 16.2 million of nectarines. Timing is slightly later than last year.