While it may have only been a handful of growers, there was enough activity on orchards to consider 1 June the first official day of the 2018 Northwest cherry harvest.
As forecast, early regions have been hardest hit by autumn cold snaps and spring frosts, which have seen volumes limited from these initial picks.
“However, the dark colour on even some of these earliest cherries has been fantastic, not to mention the great sugars,” Northwest Chery Growers said in a statement. “We're excited for what similar conditions will bring with our middle and late season varieties.”
Northwest Chery Growers added that growing conditions had “more-or-less” remained in the optimum range over recent weeks, boding well as production ramps up over coming weeks.
“While our earliest blocks were reporting a little less volume than estimated (due to greater than expected winter cold damage to the tree tissue), the quality, sugar and colour of the first cherries have us all excited for the crop to come.”
By last Friday morning (8 June) the industry had shipped just over 250,000 cartons, with that figure rising to 758,769 cartons by Monday (11 June). Historically, it's taken us as an industry between 10 and 14 days to build up to full velocity.
“The lighter set on the earliest fruit this year led us to believe we would see a slightly flattened curve for the first week, and then a quick ramp up around the 14th or 15th of the month,” Northwest Chery Growers explained.
The current estimate projects the overall 2018 crop will hit 23m cartons.