The cherry harvest of the latest cherry growing region in North America, British Columbia, is still in full swing. “We are at least two weeks behind and will definitely pick until after Labor Day,” says Julie McLachlan with Jealous Fruits. The last cherries are estimated to be picked between September 5 and 8 and some overseas markets are expected to see arrivals until late September.
El Dorado orchard – the orchard with the highest elevation, with top elevation at 2650 ft.
Although production volume for Jealous Fruits will be about 70 percent of the projections earlier in the season, it is a very good year for the company. “We have a good window of supply as Washington is pretty much done,” commented McLachlan. There’s only some light volume left, offering an opportunity for strong pricing. In the past few years, Washington and British Columbia harvests saw more overlap, but this year the timing is back to normal, resulting in less competition and higher prices.
High pack-out rates
In addition, McLachlan is very happy with the quality of this year’s crop. “We are having an average summer with warm weather, but not too hot.” It has been 35 or 36°C during the day, and then it cools off to about 16 or 17°C at night. Good sugars, color, sizing, and firmness are the result. “We are fortunate not to see any compression of the crop.” The high quality also results in high pack-out rates and great conditions upon arrival. Going into the last few weeks of picking, McLachlan is relieved there are no weather events in the forecast for the next 14 days.
Moon Festival demand
What also works in Jealous’ favor this year is the Moon Festival that will take place in many Asian countries on September 10. Leading up to the festival, cherry demand out of Asia is high. “With the Moon Festival being celebrated so early this year and our harvest being late, we have a great marketing window and are able to take advantage of pre-Moon Festival sales,” McLachlan shared. Fruit that doesn’t get shipped in time for the Moon Festival will probably arrive in time for China National Day, a public holiday celebrated October 1.
In addition to Asia, exports to Europe are also quite strong this year. “Overall, the shipping situation globally has improved, but we are also able to take advantage of a great marketing window. Harvest in Europe and British Columbia overlapped the last few years, but not this year. Europe has finished at their normal time while we are late.” The offshore market is expected to make up about 60 percent of total shipments for Jealous Fruit this year. The remaining 40 percent is predominantly trucked to the US.
Left: ‘Suite Note’ variety at size 9.5 row packed for shipment. Right: ‘Regina’ variety size 9.5 row in hand for size reference.