The first cherry crop prediction of the year calls for a big, if late, season.

Growers expect to harvest about 21.8 million 20-pound boxes, or 218,000 metric tons, according a crop estimate released today by the Northwest Cherry Growers, a Yakima, Washington, based group that markets fresh cherries for producers in the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah.

This was the first of four crop estimates done each season. Numbers are adjusted as the season progresses. If the Round One figures holds, it would surpass last year’s total of 20.9 million boxes shipped.

A picker pulls leaves from cherries he harvested in Prosser, Washington. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

This year, growers anticipate starting harvest after the second week of June, one of the latest starts to their harvest season due to a long cool spring and winter, the organization said in the crop report. That contrasts with last year’s record early start date of May 20.

Also, growers anticipate a strong Bing crop following a poor one last year and a Rainier harvest that exceeds that of 2015 and 2016, the report said.

The Northwest Cherry Growers’ 22-person estimation team issues its total four crop reports as the season progresses based on weather, historical data, crop expansion and processing tonnage estimates. The volume prediction commonly fluctuates as growing conditions change.

Go here for the complete Round One estimate.