May 18, 2022
Northwest cherry crop down, but plenty to promote

The Northwest cherry crop is developing beautifully but slowly, according to Northwest Cherry Growers, which puts the season’s first production estimate at 150,468 tons (15.05 million 20-pound cartons).

Volunteers surveyed almost 90% of the Northwest production to arrive at that number, which compares to the 2021 pre-season estimate of 237,992 tons.

Though not as large as some recent seasons, the 2022 crop is still a promotable cherry crop and too valuable to be re-allocated to a hidden away display, according to the cherry group.

Perhaps the oddest thing about the 2021 bloom is the period of “suspended animation,” for lack of a better term, according to a news release from the cherry group.

“The snow seems to have damaged most of the open flowers upon which it fell,” according to the release. “However, it appears that some of the unopened buds in regions that did not experience the most extreme low temperatures simply waited until the temperatures warmed up before they continued their bloom processes. This helped some flowers survive, but created time gaps of up to a week or more within individual trees and/or orchards.”

The challenge of a staggered bloom at this point of the season is the need for a longer window of ideal weather for bee activity and pollination.  Unfortunately, the periods of warmth and sunshine across much of the Northwest has been shuffled in with storm fronts and cool periods. Thus, depending on the orchard location, the elongated bloom has either allowed the bees extra time to work or limited their ability to find viable cherry blooms to pollinate. These two factors has made the estimation process particularly data-intensive this year, according to the release.

Unusually cool weather morphed the bloom into one of its earlier starting, but later finishing blooms. This bodes well for both early and late season cherry supplies, according to the release.

“As always, it takes our industry at least 10 days to begin to build up to larger volumes, and that will certainly be the case this year,” according to the release.

The early season volume on Northwest trees should sufficiently help cherry-focused retailers transition from this year’s California crop.

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