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Cherry growers in the Northwest have announced their first crop estimate of the season, and if they’re right, 2019 is in for another big year.

In an estimate called Round 1, Northwest Cherry Growers predicts a harvest of 24.9 million 20-pound box equivalents, according to an industry announcement Tuesday from the Yakima, Washington association charged with collectively marketing one of the region’s signature crops.

If that figure holds — and it may not — it would mean the third largest cherry crop ever for the five northwestern states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah.

Each year, Northwest Cherry Growers makes several crop predictions with a 22-member team of field representatives. Each year, their prediction changes with weather and market forces as the season moves closer to harvest. The actual 2018 crop came in 9 percent higher than the first estimate, for example.
Tuesday’s announcement is later than usual due to the late spring.

“Spring was late this year, and while it’s progressing quickly, not all of our orchards are far enough along to determine how much of their crop will remain on the tree,” the announcement said.

The estimate comes one day before the sweet cherry industry’s annual 5-State meeting scheduled for Wednesday in Richland, Washington, where growers and industry representatives from the entire region meet to discuss the upcoming crop.

—by Ross Courtney