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Northwest sweet cherries being harvested in 2019. (Courtesy Northwest Cherry Growers)

Northwest sweet cherries being harvested in 2019. (Courtesy Northwest Cherry Growers)

The Northwest cherry season is underway, with the first week of harvest completed for the region’s earliest blocks and 400,000 boxes already shipped. That’s earlier than initially forecast after the cool spring and good news for late-June and Fourth of July promotions, according to the Northwest Cherry Growers’ news release on Friday morning.

Growers are expected to harvest 9.4 million boxes in June, but the overall crop estimate has been reduced by about 4 percent, as field staff report more drop than originally anticipated. The overall volume estimate is now at 23.8 million 20-pound equivalent boxes, down from the 24.9 million box estimate Northwest Cherry Growers set in mid-May.

“The season is just getting started in the Northwest, and the crop will still be large enough to cover a full ad planner for June, July and August sweet cherry promotions,” Northwest Cherry Growers said in its news release.

At 23.8 million boxes, that would put the 2019 crop below the previous two seasons, including the record 26.4 million boxes in 2017, and closer to the 5-year average.

—by Kate Prengaman