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This year, Washington state will likely be the latest cherry production region in North America

The Washington cherry crop is moving along at a good pace and harvest is expected to start on time, around June 1st. Coming out of a very tough 2023 season, growers and shippers are hoping for a much better market this year. "Cherries are such a vibrant commodity and a sign of hope for us, so we are very much looking forward to the new season," says Dan Davis with Washington Fruit Growers.

Good fruit size
As of right now, things are looking positive. Growing conditions have been good, apart from an early freeze that impacted Washington's northern growing regions. As a result, the northern part of the state is expected to see a reduction in volume, just like bordering province British Columbia. "All in all, our growers survived the frost fairly well. With regards to total volume, there are a few concerns about some early season varieties," Davis commented. "Nevertheless, we are still looking at a pretty good crop this season." While the early season crop may be lighter, the fruit size this year is expected to be good throughout all varieties and growing regions in the state.

Last year, the growing regions of California and Washington significantly overlapped, causing a drop in prices and a difficult season for Washington growers. "This year, we're hearing there will be an overlap again," said Davis. However, growers and shippers are hoping for a shorter overlap. What's also different this year is that the cherries from California's later growing districts are expected to be smaller in size. "If that's the case, it will help foster a more orderly transition to Washington as we will have plenty of volume and good size fruit to satisfy retailers," Davis said.

Very limited availability from B.C.
Washington cherries will peak for about four to six weeks, from the second week of June until the third week of July. "We are working with retailers to motivate them to promote cherries during peak availability, especially the two weeks around the 4th of July." By the time Washington cherry production wraps up, the expectation is for cherry availability in North America to become very limited. Usually, British Columbia follows Washington State and is in season until late August, early September. However, the province was hit by a devastating freeze in January and another freeze in April. The BC Cherry Association called it a climate change event that will impact the crop more than any other weather event the industry has experienced before.

Washington Fruit Growers' cherries are packed out of two packing facilities: one in the state's northern growing region and one in the south, closer to Oregon. "These two facilities equip us well to handle peak volumes." About 70 – 75 percent of the company's cherries stay in the domestic market and the remaining 25 to 30 percent are exported to different markets around the globe. While Asia is the focus market outside the U.S., Washington cherries also make their way over to Central and South America as well as Australia.

For more information:
Dan Davis
Washington Fruit Growers
Tel: (+1) 509.961.1919
[email protected]