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US (MI): Large cherry crop could spell bad news for prices

This season the amount of cherries being grown in northern Michigan has doubled, but it isn't necessarily a good thing for growers, who are concerned that an excess of the fruit may push the price per pound down. 

"We need the public to buy more cherries... that's the answer!" said Jim Bardenhagen of Bardenhagen Farms.

"Yes, so that's the challenge of agriculture and that whole business of supply and demand," said coordinator Nikki Rothwell with the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Center. "You always want that perfect crop where we know we are going to sell it all and we don't have any leftovers."

Rothwell says the cherry crop out there now is the biggest in northwest Michigan since 2009.

This year it's estimated about 165-million pounds of tart cherries will be harvested in northern Michigan.

"That's a lot of product to move through a limited amount of processing facilities," Rothwell said.

Especially compared to last year's 87-million.

"I heard from a grower this morning that his processor called him and said we don't need your cherries this year so that really sends a fever up in the growing community," Bardenhagen said.

"Ninety eight-percent of that crop is a variety we call Montmorency, so it's that really pretty bright red cherry that is also really perishable," Rothwell said.

Depending on the size of each farmer's crop, the price per pound, and how much of it is harvested, farmers could potentially lose tens of thousands of dollars if they're not used.

The worst case scenario would be growers having to dump product but Bardenhagen doesn't anticipate that this year.

Growers won't know the full effect this larger than usual crop will have on them financially until this fall at the earliest.

Those 165-million pounds of cherries will be harvested from mid-July to mid-August.

Last year's nearly 87-million pounds sold for around 35-cents per pound.

Source: upnorthlive.com

Publication date: 6/29/2016


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