I was able to attend the annual Canadian Produce Marketing Association conference through this past weekend in Calgary, Canada. This year, the show had over 3,000 attendees and 250 exhibitors. Canada continues to be a key market for Northwest Cherries, absorbing over 2.1 million 20-lb equivalent boxes.
Likewise, western Canada is a primary target market for Washington-grown soft fruit. As a result, the show was a positive opportunity to meet with Canada’s retail sector and touch base with many industry shipper/sales agents along the way. While it is still too early to put numbers on the region’s stone fruit crops, it’s never too early to share market statistics, category management data, and merchandising opportunities associated with our tree fruit. The trade show portion of the event took place on Thursday and Friday, April 12-13, 2012.
A spring-time snowstorm hit Calgary as I was leaving on Saturday, April 14. I was able to get back to Yakima the same day without any major travel delays. The weather in Yakima was much more accommodating than that in Canada. I returned to 70 degree sunshine and the news that bloom on Bing cherry trees was at 100% as far north as Wapato!
So far, all the growers I’ve talked to across the Northwest feel that they have had a great bloom and plenty of opportunity for pollination. There remains a reasonable spread in the growing districts as Bings in Omak are just starting to break bloom today!
Soft fruit growers in California have not been so lucky this week, as heavy hailstorms pelted the Kingsburg and Reedley growing districts last week. As of this morning, the California industry is maintaining that approximately 20% of the season’s soft fruit crop was damaged by the hailstorm.
Here in the Northwest, we have had a smooth bloom so far…and, based on grower conversations, I am guessing that we will pick our first cherries this year around June 10th or 11th. Keep your fingers crossed as we still have plenty of spring weather to traverse before we pick a cherry.