Earlier estimates not too far off

Bing cherries peaking in California's San Joaquin Valley

Bing cherries are peaking in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Most of all the other early major varieties have finished. Joe Cataldo, founder of J&M Farms says they’re getting through the bulk of their Bings over the next seven to eight days. The California Cherry Advisory Board Research Committee (CCAB) says over 4 million 18-lb. packages of cherries are harvested in California between April and June. At this point in the season the industry is nearing 2 million 18lb boxes. “Based on early estimates from the CCAB we might reach as high as 4.5 million packed boxes for Bings this year.” J&M Farms produces Bing, Rainier and Santina cherries.

No concern for glut
With all the cherries on the market it’s stayed strong, along with strong demand. “There’s been a few issues with sizing on some of these varieties, but for the most part that kind of worked itself out and now the market’s stabilized,” Cataldo said. “It’s at a really fair price for the consumer. It’s a livable price for us growers so long as there’s a good amount of size and good amount of production.”

Fruit quality
Fruit quality has been good on what Cataldo says has been a “clean crop.” There were some sizing issues earlier on, but that’s behind them. Weather has been favorable, even with the morning shower on May 31. “I think to finish off the season we’ll have a strong push for good quality.” The biggest push for J&M Farms just passed with the Memorial Day holiday weekend; there was excellent response from retailers and exporters. “Moving forward the next week and a half or so things look like they’re lining up to be a strong finish to a pretty decent season so far.” 

Earlier hiccups
Issues at the outset could be attributed to drastic changes in temperatures between warm and cool that the area experienced right in the middle of what Cataldo says was the critical growing time for the Bing cherries. “It’s not like the fruit had hanging longer than it should have; we’ve had some up and down weather. We’ve been battling weaker stems than we’re used to.”

International consumption & distribution
Cataldo distributes around the world, with a good amount of produce going to Asian markets, particularly Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Locally, their roadside cherry patch fruit stand is popular. Cherries at the fruit stand are the same quality that they ship out commercially, not second grade, which gives customers an opportunity to buy fresh local fruit. He hasn’t seen much of an opportunity for that elsewhere. “I’ve seen there’s really not much of an opportunity for our local residents to be able to purchase fresh quality cherries that were picked that day locally. We deliver our best every day.” What might not make the cut at the sorting shed gets sent to the brinery or juice markets. “There’s limited waste,” he said.

For more information:
Joe Cataldo
J&M Farms

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