The Northwest’s overall sweet cherry crop is now expected to come in smaller than original estimates called for.
So said the final industry crop estimate, released today, coincidentally National Rainier Cherry Day.
The combined haul of the five major Northwest cherry producing states should be about 22.1 million 20-pound box equivalents, down roughly 11 percent from the initial 24.9-million box estimate in mid-May, according to the estimation team working for Northwest Cherry Growers, a Yakima, Washington-based organization that promotes collectively for growers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah.
As of Thursday, the industry had shipped 13.7 million boxes, the announcement said. However, a late start and relatively cool weather mean the harvest will stretch well into August.
Meanwhile, strong winds throughout the growing regions caused a reduction in the crop of Rainier cherries, yellow-tinged fruit with thin skin, of between 15 and 20 percent from the original expectation of 1.87 million boxes, said B.J. Thurlby, president of Northwest Cherries. The problem was the worst for fruit making the bouncy trip to the East Coast, he said.
Every year, growers plan on some wind or rain to cause problems, he said. “This year we got both.”
—by Ross Courtney