Californian cherry growers have lost significant portions of their early season crop with some areas reporting losses as high as 60 per cent, according to local news sources.
The damage from heavy rain arrived at an inopportune time, just before the Memorial Day holiday, one of the industry’s busiest times.
Fred Rinder, Fresno County deputy agricultural commissioner, told abc7news the losses are so bad he is gathering information to request a disaster declaration, with estimates 60 per cent of the county’s crop was damaged.
"In 40 years, this is the weirdest May I've been involved with," Rinder said.
While not all crops were hit as hard as those in Fresno County, the Californian cherry industry is still expecting a large drop in total output.
Original estimates for the crop were around 10m 18lb (8.2kg) cartons but Don Walters, domestic sales agent for Grower Direct Marketing in Stockton, told Capital Press the industry could lose 4m cartons, “I’m still optimistic we will come out with 6m-7m after the rain finishes.”
Walters said the early Tulare and Brooks varieties bore the brunt of the damage, while the Bing crop, east of Stockton, was green enough to remain relatively unscathed. Growers further south managed to avoid the worst of the rain.
“Bakersfield is 60-70 per cent harvested. It got less rain. Our field department is saying there’s still some nice fruit down there,” Walters told Capital Press.
Other sources in the region said another saving possibility may be the lateness of the crop in the Stockton/Lodi area where a percentage of of the fruit may have been still too young to be damaged, however it will take time for this outcome to become clear.