Weekend rains should have little effect on the Northwest cherry crop, which growers had forecast at 19.8 million 20-pound boxes in their second crop estimate of the season released Friday (May 13).

Saturday and Sunday, growers used helicopters and wind machines to dry off cherries hit by rain. Yakima, Washington, saw .34 inches Saturday and .17 inches Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: Cherry orchards wet from rain. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

FILE PHOTO: Cherry orchards wet from rain. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

However, those rains were expected to affect only roughly 3 percent of the Chelan cherries, just one of Washington’s many varieties, said B.J. Thurlby, president of the Northwest Cherry Growers Association, the Yakima group that represents producers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana.

Friday’s estimate already was down 4.5 percent from the May 2 original forecast by the Northwest Cherry Growers. Rainiers took the biggest dip — 10 percent since the first estimate — and are expected to yield 1.55 million boxes.

The Yakima, Washington, organization makes four crop estimates during the early part of the cherry season, each time getting a clearer and more accurate picture of bloom, fruit set, heat units and fruit growth.

Growers and field representatives still expect the season to run ahead of normal schedule. The Round 2 forecast called for a start date of May 23 in the earliest areas, but some growers told Thurlby that may jump to May 20. The industry expects to ship 600,000 boxes by the end of May.