Season tracking for an early start and finish with volume estimated to increase on 2023 

Northwest Cherry Growers (NWCG) has released its first forecast for the 2024 season predicting volume and quality to improve on 2023. 

US NWC60038 cherries

First NWCG forecast predicts improvements in volume and quality on 2023

Optimal spring weather has aided growers and the NWCG round one estimate has pegged the 2024 crop at 20.9m cartons (20lb equivalents), which is up 12 per cent on the 18.7m-carton crop in 2023. In addition to increases in volume, upcoming warmer weather is expected to improve quality.  

“The Northwest will be seeing temperatures in the mid-80s – which will lend to the buildup of sugars and cell division in the fruit,” NWCG said in an update. 

The harvest is set to start relatively early this year during the first week of June as the first full bloom occurred in early April “almost two full weeks ahead of the 2023 bloom window”.  

However, frost in January has affected late varieties, which may see the season to end quickly in August, according to some industry sources.  

“Over the winter, the higher elevation orchards (above 1,900ft elevation) were hit by sub-zero temperatures, which means that coming into the season the prospects for the late maturing fruit will be reduced,” NWCG said. 

Due to the early start and finish, the industry expects to ship fruit for close to 90 days.    

In California, the sweet cherry industry has predicted a crop of close to 10.2 m cartons (18lb equivalent boxes) for 2024. California growers began harvest on 19 April and have shipped just over 400,000 cartons to date. 

With the early Northwest season, industry sources expect a slight overlap with the California crop although this won’t be as extensive as what occurred last season.