Although the cherries in British Columbia’s (BC) northern cherry growing regions are still green, Jealous Fruits is cautiously optimistic about the upcoming season. “We had ideal weather during bloom,” says Julie McLachlan with the company. "We experienced moderate temperatures, very little rain and wind which made for ideal circumstances for pollination and cell division,” she added. Generally, the production of BC’s cherry crop will be much improved over the difficult 2020 season. “We have a strong fruit set with a good size profile, not an overcrop situation but we are expecting good volumes.”
Main volumes harvested in August
The company’s cherry blocks are located throughout the Okanagan Valley, the northernmost cherry growing region in the northern hemisphere. Harvest will start with small volumes in early July with full volume ramping up in mid-July. This year, about 75 percent of Jealous’ total cherry volume is expected to be harvested in the August window. “We are looking forward to a strong late season program and anticipate running right through the end of August,” McLachlan mentioned.
Little overlap with Washington
Demand for BC cherries is expected to be high. “Our production is only a fraction of Washington’s production, but Washington is expected to have only 5 percent of harvest left once August comes around.” According to the Northwest Cherry Growers estimate, the state of Washington is projected to have a harvest of 22.37 million boxes of cherry fruit. Out of that number, the state expects to harvest the bulk in June and July with about 1.1 million boxes left for August. “We think the August window will be similar to last year with little overlap between Washington and BC,” McLachlan commented. “In 2018 and 2019 there was much more overlap, but this is more normal timing between the two growing districts.”
Regina variety is up and coming
Kordia and Regina are two varieties that are extremely popular in China, Southeast Asia and Europe. Regina has been planted across many of the company’s farms and acreage has expanded. “Today, this variety makes up 17 percent of our planted acreage, making us the largest grower-shipper of this variety in Canada.” Harvest of Regina is expected to run from July 19 until August 10. Harvest of Kordia, another variety that Jealous is the largest grower of, is expected to run in the first half of July. Some of the later varieties that won’t start shipping until August include Staccato, Sovereign, and Sentennial. “These varieties are well suited for sea freight, air storage and storage programs for our US retail partners.”
Jealous Fruits focuses on a balanced and diversified marketing program. “We export all over the world, but China and the US are our top 2 markets. We have a lot of US retailers that have jumped on our program, so they can continue offering cherries after Washington has finished.” The increased costs of both sea freight and trucking are of concern. “We are closely following the situation. California is shipping now and dealing with the same issues, but fortunately it doesn’t seem to impact their shipping abilities.”