Cherry growers in the Northwest estimate the recent record-setting heat wave will cost them about 20 percent of their crop, according to a crop update from an industry group.

Northwest Cherry Growers of Yakima, Washington, which collectively promotes cherries from five Northwest states, cautioned it was too early to tell for sure, but put its first number to the damage caused by the late June and early July heat wave.

The organization relies on a crop estimation team to make periodic adjustments to the crop forecast. Small changes from the original prediction are common as the season progresses. The July 13 crop update was the fourth and final of the season.

Rainier and Bing cherries most likely bore the brunt of the heat damage, though the late-season variety Skeena also was affected by the heat and winds, the update said. Other late-season varieties, such as Sweethearts and Lapins, appeared to suffer less damage, though harvest is expected to last into late August in some areas. 

The heat wave, caused by a heat dome that disrupted the jet stream, set all-time temperature records throughout the Pacific Northwest. Growers accelerated their harvest dates and sometimes scheduled their picking crews for work in the middle of the night with headlamps and construction floodlights.

—by Ross Courtney