Northwest Cherry Growers has released its first crop estimate for the 2024 season, expecting 21 million 20-pound box equivalents, or 210,000 tons.

If that figure holds, it would surpass the 2023 total harvest of 18.7 million boxes by 12 percent, according to a May 7 news release from the Yakima, Washington-based organization that collectively promotes sweet cherries from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana.

This was the first of several crop estimates that are made by industry representatives periodically through the season, based on weather, acreage and bloom conditions. 

California cherry producers estimated a crop of 10.2 million 18-pound box equivalents, or 92,000 tons, according to the release. Growers there began harvest on April 19.

Northwest reps expect harvest to start near the first of June.

Early and midseason orchards should have average volumes. Some late-season orchards with harvests in late July and August, especially those between Wenatchee, Washington, and Canada, might see a volume reduction of 50 percent due to a winter freeze, according to the release. 

Members of Northwest Cherry Growers are scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. May 15 at the Holiday Inn on the River in Richland, Washington. The group usually releases an estimate at the conclusion of that meeting.

by Ross Courtney