Northwest cherry growers called for a crop of 18.3 million boxes — 183,000 tons — Wednesday at the annual five-state meeting in Richland.
That estimate, the third of the year, is lower than the previous industry projection of 19.8 million boxes released May 13.
“We all know in the cherry business, two weeks is a long time,” said B.J. Thurlby, president of the Northwest Cherry Growers, a Yakima, Washington, organization that represents growers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah.
Though growers expect Rainiers, a popular blush yellow variety, will show lower volumes this year, they were excited for the 2016 season.
“I’m so optimistic about big fruit and high demand,” said Mike Taylor, a sales manager at Stemilt, the Wenatchee, Washington, fruit company. “I think we’re going to have a great season.”
Last year, demand for cherries outpaced supply in June, retailers told industry officials. That may happen again, Thurlby said.
“I feel sorry for our sales desks,” he said.
The association uses field representatives to make early season crop estimates to help sales staffs and retailers plan promotions. The annual meeting brings cherry growers together to make their own projections by state and region.
The 2016 five-state meeting estimates broke down like this.
Hood River — 6,000 tons
The Dalles — 22,000
Milton-Freewater — 1,000
Total — 29,000
Wenatchee — 80,000
Yakima — 72,000
Total — 152,000
Total for five states
183,200 tons or 18.3 million 20-pound box equivalents
*Growers from Utah, Idaho and Montana did not attend the meeting but reported their estimates to the association ahead of time.
– by Ross Courtney