The final volume of the Northwest’s 2018 cherry crop, the second largest ever, came out to 25.3 million 20-pound box equivalents, or 253,000 tons.
That’s the final figure in the annual season review released by Northwest Cherry Growers, a Yakima, Washington-based organization that collectively markets cherries for growers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah. Those states produce the vast majority of the United States’ sweet cherries, with Washington leading the way.
The 2018 crop also featured the largest Rainier crop in history and a record-setting June volume.
Other notable nuggets in the season review:
—Canada regained its spot at the top of the cherry export market, with growers shipping 2.78 million boxes, knocking China off the pedestal due to its trade war with the United States.
—Shippers sent 1.6 million boxes to China this year, half of last year’s 3.2 million box total. The trade dispute led to escalating tariffs and taxes that slowed and, eventually, effectively ended sales there. The loss of the Chinese market caused lost sales and lower prices in other markets.
—A low volume from California caused demand to spike for Northwest cherries early in the season.
—Packers moved 2.52 million boxes of Rainier cherries, a record for the variety, beating the previous high of 2.36 million in 2014.
—Organic cherry production jumped 26 percent over 2017 and accounted for 3 percent of the sweet cherry volume in 2018.
by Ross Courtney
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