Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct 18-pound weight of a California cherry carton.

California cherry growers expect an 8.7 million-carton (18-pound box) crop that will begin shipping roughly two weeks late this year due to the state’s historically cool spring.

Growers expect to begin harvest May 3 with production peaking May 22, according to an estimate from California Cherry Board, a state marketing order based in Sacramento. Some shippers expect marketable volumes of fruit through June 30.

“Overall, the crop looks good with high-quality California cherries,” according to the estimate.

Coral Champagne is expected to be the most abundant variety with 3.2 million cartons, followed by Bing with 2.6 million and Brooks with 750,000, according to the estimate.

Several California producers told Good Fruit Grower the crop was unusually late due to rain and cool weather throughout the late winter and spring. Many growers start harvest in April but likely will have to wait until May this year.

If it holds, California’s anticipated volume would be a “good” crop by industry standards, one that will allow enough volume to fill all markets with reasonable prices, said B.J. Thurlby, president of Northwest Cherry Growers, which markets fruit from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana.

Northwest growers, who typically follow California to market, also expect to start harvest later than usual, due to a cool spring, Thurlby said.

by Ross Courtney