This year may be a record for the US' Northwest cherry industry, with forecasts for a big crop contrasting with last year's low production.
While the Northwest Cherry Growers/ Washington State Fruit Commission has provisionally budgeted for a 16m carton crop, the consensus of opinion among many in the industry is somewhat higher.
“We’ve got buds on fence-posts this year,” said Randy Eckert of Yakima Fresh. “Actually, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if Mother Nature thinned this crop out a little. Otherwise, the industry is all but guaranteed to set a volume record this year.”
Already complicating the 2009 season is the fact crop looks to be running behind schedule as, once again, cool spring weather has delayed fruit maturity by 7-10 days.
A greater volume is expected to be exported by sea this year, as traders try to save money by shifting from airfreight. New airfreight inspection regulations have also driven the shift.
“You can save as much as US$20.00 per carton, however, and that could be a key to moving volume in a recession,” said Marc Spears of Chelan Fresh Marketing.
Asia is tipped as a key market to absorb the season’s high production, especially for fruit shipped by sea.