Northwest cherry shipments are off to a good start and excellent volume is expected leading up to the Fourth of July and beyond.
Around 2.5 million cartons had been picked as of June 19. Northwest cherry shipments this season are forecast to fall in the 20 million to 23 million cartons range. Cherry picking got underway around June 8th, a little later than last year.
“Our cherries ripened up a few days earlier than expected as the weather has really been favorable this spring,” said Steve Castleman, vice president for sales for CMI Orchards of Wenatchee, WA. “Lots of sunshine and warm temperatures have brought the color and sugars up and we’re looking at a superior harvest with sweet, vibrant and high-quality fruit for the duration of the season.”
Tim Welsh, a general manager for Columbia Fruit Packers (one of four grower/packer companies that owns CMI Orchards) said in the release the Washington cherry crop has seen very little wind, and that has resulted in very clean fruit.
Welsh said in the release that sizing will be mixed with a range of small to extra large at the beginning of the season.
“As the season progresses, our cherries continue to get larger and larger, and by July we should see a lot more large fruit than typical,” he said in the release. Welsh said there will be “huge” promotable volume between the end of June and the end of July.
Harvest for CMI is officially underway for the company’s very first crop of Skylar Rae cherries, according to the release.
“They are big, bright, blushing and sweet as can be,” Shane Marston, sales manager for CMI, said in the release.
CMI joined forces with Stemilt this year to grow and market Skylar Rae cherries, according to the release. The variety, originally discovered by the Toftness family in Washington, are available in a 1-pound clamshell or pouch bag, and supply is limited, according to the release.
Northwest cherries, apples and pears, grossing about $6300 to New York City.