Experts Predict 35% Drop in Cherry Harvest
It’s been a tough season for cherry growers in the region and as this year’s harvest approaches, estimates for the 2022 crop are down considerably.
B.J. Thurlby, president of the Washington State Fruit Commission, says the unseasonably cool weather this spring is the biggest reason for the marked shortfall.
“The biggest issue is that four or five inches of snow we got in the middle of April,” explained Thurlby. “Normally I would say, ‘you can find cherries all over the place in Wenatchee,’ but I have a lot of growers that are telling me they won’t even pick this year.”
Orchards stretching from Grant County to the Yakima Valley and beyond have also been hit hard in 2022, and Thurlby says that will translate to a projected drop of 35 percent over last year’s crop.
“Normally we would pick 22 million boxes – this year we’ll pick maybe 14 (million),” detailed Thurlby. “It’s just expected to be a much shorter crop this year.”
Among the many varieties grown in the state, Bings have been dinged the most and are expected to produce their shortest harvest in over 20 years.
Conversely, lighter-skinned varieties like Rainiers have seen an unusually banner season and are expected to be plentiful and of good quality.
Despite the difficult growing conditions this year, consumer price increases for all varieties are projected to be nominal.