Monster Sweet Cherry Crop Expected

Sweet cherry production in the U.S. is forecast at 432,760 tons this year, up 36% from 2016.

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS), total sweet cherry production is expected to be 432,760 tons, up from 318,000 tons in 2016.

In California, growers expect the best crop in recent years following several seasons of drought and low yields. Harvest began near the normal late-April timeframe after two years of early crops. The Golden State is expected to produce 99,000 tons, after only about 60,000 tons in both 2015 and 2016.

Growers in Oregon and Washington reported a good crop due to a moderate spring with warm temperatures.

Washington, the nation’s largest producer, is expected to weigh in with 255,000 tons after harvesting 195,000 tons this past year. Harvesting of the earliest varieties, such as Chelan, just began this past week.

The Oregon crop is expected to be 60,000 tons, up significantly from the 42,000 tons harvested in 2016.

In Michigan, growers are still assessing damage from an early May freeze event but expect an average crop, 18,760 tons. That would be down slightly from the 21,000 tons harvested in 2016.

Tart cherry production, meanwhile, is a different story, according to NASS. U.S. tart cherry production is forecast at 238 million pounds, down 23% from the 2016 production.

The figure is somewhat misleading, though, because in Michigan, the largest-producing state, growers are still assessing damage from the May freeze event. In addition, last year Michigan growers saw an unusually large crop, 222.7 million pounds. This year’s forecast of 164.5 million pounds is considered an average crop.

Utah growers reported a less than average crop this year, 29 million pounds, down from 43 million in 2016. Some growers reporting low production cited freeze and frost at bloom.

In Wisconsin, the growers surveyed by NASS said the season has been wet and cool, which may have hurt pollination. There was a frost in early May but it appears to have only caused modest damage. Production is forecast at 10.4 million pounds, down from 11 million in 2016.

New York growers anticipate a less than average crop this year with widely varied yields.

In Washington, growers reported moderate spring temperatures and moisture and expect harvest to begin later than normal, according to NASS.

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