Growers and shippers in the Pacific Northwest are looking to welcome a larger cherry crop compared to 2022, which saw 12.4 million boxes. “The initial estimates could be between 20 to 21 million case crop in the Northwest. Mother Nature has been good to us right now with 90-degree days and 60-degree nights so we’ve been having perfect weather of warm days and cool nights,” says Don Roper with Honeybear Brands. “We are through the risk period of the cold weather and now the only thing that would be an issue is the rain and wind throughout the season, which is typical of our cherry season. We are profiled to have a large crop out of Washington.”
Like many crops this year, the crop will start slightly later than normal. Dark Sweets (red cherries) should start between June 12th and the 15th. “Those are going to be the first pickings and then about a week later you start to get into the bigger volumes. We’ll have strong promotable volumes in July and we expect the season to go through the end of August,” says Roper. The season will start in the Tri City, Oregon area and the harvest will move its way up north.
Yellow cherries next
Rainier (yellow cherries) typically start 10 to 12 days later and this year are expected to begin around June 22/23. The six-week season should go until mid to late July.
“In general, we’re not sure about the fruit sizing yet meaning is it going to peak on the 10-row, 10.5-row, 11-row? We’re hopeful it’s bigger fruit but it’s too early to tell,” says Roper.
All of this is good news for growers and retailers given the last few years have been challenging cherry seasons. “This is exciting because it should give us good promotable volume with good strong retail price points to drive sell-through,” says Roper. “If we harvest a 20-21 million box crop, we’ll see aggressive cherry retail prices all summer long.”
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