While cherry growers on the US West Coast have experienced one of their coldest and latest starts to a season in decades, the outlook for this year’s Northwest crop looks promising.
According to an initial forecast released by industry body Northwest Cherries (NWC), volumes are expected to reach 217,850 tonnes or 21.8m cartons (9kg equivalent). The performance would better last year’s output of 20.9m cartons, although sales programmes aren’t likely to get underway until next month.
“We began bloom nearly as late as we ever have, but thankfully consistent warm weather allowed for a great bloom across all regions,” the NWC forecast read. “Due to this warming, some of the earliest growers expect to begin harvest during the second week of June.”
The estimate includes a strong forecast for the Rainier crop, exceeding the nearly identical 1.7m carton (6.8kg) crops of 2015 and 2016. Rainier cherries are expected to be available into mid July, providing marketers with “a greater ability to maintain extended retail promotions,” according to NWC.
The outlook for Bing is also positive, after many Northwest orchards failed to set a crop with this variety last year.
“Those trees are well-rested and set well to provide a large crop of superior fruit this year,” according to the NWC forecast.
Supply volumes out of the Northwest are likely to accelerate once the Bing crop comes online, with July looming as the busiest month for sales programmes. Voles are expected to continue trickling through until late August.
“With the great spread between districts, this will also be a season full of late season promotion opportunities,” the NWC estimate added.
The initial forecast is the first of four rounds of projections that will take place before and during the Northwest season.