Washington stone fruit grower assessments stay the same
Fruit Commission board sets sweet cherry grower assessments at $18 per ton, $12 for peaches, plums/prunes, nectarines, and apricots.
Washington State Fruit Commission
Washington State’s sweet cherry growers are cautiously optimistic that the 2011 harvest will be a good, strong crop despite cold temperatures in late February that may have nipped buds in some growing areas. Grower assessments paid to the Washington State Fruit Commission in 2011 will be the same rate as in past years—$18 per ton for cherries and $12 per ton for stone fruit.
While temperatures dipped down to single digits in some locations at the end of February, cherry bud damage is spotty, not widespread. The next 30 days, as trees come out of dormancy, will give growers a better idea of the potential crop size and quality for 2011. During the March Fruit Commission board of director’s meeting, board members agreed that the industry still has potential to produce a good-sized crop, barring additional adverse weather. A more detailed crop estimate will be released in mid-May at the Five-State Cherry Meeting.
However, Washington’s soft fruit crops, such as apricots, were hit much harder by the late February cold snap. Depending on location, some apricots in the southern districts of the state received as high as 20 percent bud damage. Apricots grown in the northern districts fared much better because trees there were still in full dormancy. Few peaches and nectarines had been pruned before early March, so their crop potential still looks good, according to Gipp Redman, chair of the Fruit Commission.
During the March meeting, the Fruit Commission reviewed foreign and domestic promotion programs for the coming year and approved the 2011-12 budget. About $2 million was approved for the domestic promotion program, including $296,000 to promote soft fruit, and $1.95 million for the foreign program. The foreign program budget includes $1.165 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program and $70,000 from the Northwest Fruit Exporters.
The Fruit Commission received word in mid-March that $180,000 from USDA’s emerging market program was awarded for use in promoting Northwest cherries in the countries of Brazil, Vietnam, and Western Russia. The three-year grant will provide $60,000 for targeting the three countries for each of the next three years.