U.S. Sweet Cherry Crop Down 26%

U.S. Sweet Cherry Crop Down 26%

U.S. sweet cherry production is forecast at 319,900 tons this year, down 26% from the monster crop of 2017. In general, the forecast, released Tuesday by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistical Service, was down for all areas of the country except the Midwest.

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The forecast is down mostly because in the Pacific Northwest, which dominates the nation’s sweet cherry production, cool and wet weather and an extended bloom hampered pollination and led to a lighter fruit set of early varieties. Growers were concerned about the extent of fruit drop in early varieties through harvest.

Washington’s crop is forecast at 215,000 tons, down significantly from last year’s 255,000, but just barely above the 2016 total of 210,550. Oregon’s crop, 45,000 tons, is expected to be way off the 2017 crop, 60,000 tons, and the 2016 crop, 62,080.

California’s crop was off even more, barely coming in at 36,000 tons, just more than one-third the size of last year’s crop of 99,000 tons. Growers reported a warm winter across the Golden State and damaging frost over several days in late February, followed by heavy rains in March that affected much of the crop.

Michigan growers are bucking the trend, and are expecting an above average crop, 23,900 tons. That would be well above last year’s 18,760, and the 2016 crop, 22,610. Weather conditions have been reported as favorable, as higher temperatures promoted a quick-blooming period during late spring.

Tart Cherry Forecast Looking Rosy

The 2018 tart cherry crop is expected to be a completely different story. U.S. tart cherry production is forecast at 353 million pounds, up an impressive 48% from 2017.

In Michigan, the largest tart cherry producing state by far, growers were expecting an above average crop, 264 million pounds. That’s nearly 100 million pounds ahead of last year’s hugely disappointing crop. Weather conditions this spring were favorable for a quick bloom period with high temperatures in May.

Utah growers reported an above average crop this year, 42.8 million pounds, well above last year’s 29 million. Warmer weather conditions were favorable for an early bloom.

In New York, weather conditions were also favorable and the crop was off to a good start. Growers reported a good crop, 11.9 million pounds, with an average bloom.

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

In Wisconsin, snowstorms and cool temperatures lead to a delay in the crop this year. Growers reported that they expected a good crop, although there was some concern about potential damage from invasive flies.