Cool weather throughout Eastern Washington has slowed down the region’s sweet cherry harvest.

And that’s good, said B.J. Thurlby, president of Northwest Cherries, the Yakima, Washington, organization that promotes cherries for growers in five states.

Cherry harvest in Prosser, Washington in 2014. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

File photo. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

“This cooler weather has been a God send,” Thurlby said in an email to Good Fruit Grower earlier this week. “It’s slowed some of the growing districts down and is helping avoid complete compression.”

Up until recently, cherry growers had predicted their estimated crop of 18.4 million boxes would come off the trees at a breakneck pace with many districts and varieties overlapping.

However, some growers expect to harvest their Canadian varieties four to five days later than last year, while growers in later areas will pick the bulk of their fruit in July, according to a period crop update released today (June 17, 2016) by Northwest Cherries.

This year, cherry harvest began earlier than ever due to a warm spring giving the industry one of its largest Junes on record, the release said.