Posts Tagged “Northwest Cherry Growers”

Northwest-Grown Sweet Cherries are on Shelves Now

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DSCN9636By Northwest Cherry Growers

YAKIMA, Wash. — This year’s crop of Northwest sweet cherries is arriving on grocery store shelves in full-force across the U.S., putting the classic Americana fruit front and center.   Volume was good for the Fourth of July holiday and will be even better in the weeks ahead.  Despite a late start due to one of coldest winters in the Pacific Northwest in decades, growers in the Northwest anticipate a record crop size lasting through August.

“A lot of risk and investment by our growers throughout the five states allow for different orchards to be picked at different times as the summer progresses,” said James Michael, with the Northwest Cherry Growers, a growers’ organization collectively representing Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah.  “Together with a cold-chain that typically starts in the orchards and a top-speed packing and distribution system, that means our growers are truly delivering their peak of the season onto grocery shelves all summer long.”

The Northwest is known for seven varieties including Bing cherries, the most popular cherry in North America, and the unique golden-blushed Rainiers, born at Washington State University in 1952 and celebrated each year on July 11 as National Rainier Cherry Day.

A beloved Independence Day treat for baking pies with less sugar or eating fresh from the stem, sweet cherries can also be enjoyed year-round by simply rinsing, packing and freezing them.  To freeze cherries, select four to five pounds of firm, ripe cherries. After rinsing and draining, spread whole cherries with stems in a layer on a baking sheet, freezing until firm and then packing into freezer-proof containers or plastic freezer bags being sure to remove excess air and cover tightly.  Add frozen, pitted cherries to smoothies or juices, defrost and put in hot cereals, pies, turnovers, cobblers, or enjoy frozen as sweet late-night treat.

For more information on sweet Northwest Cherries, seasonal and preservation recipes, health information and more, visit

About Northwest Cherries and Washington State Fruit Commission

Washington State Fruit Commission is a growers’ organization funded by fruit assessments to increase awareness and consumption of regional stone fruits. The organization is dedicated to the promotion, education, market development, and research of soft fruits from Northwest orchards. It began in 1947 and has since grown to include five states – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana. For more information, visit or

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Latest Estimates for NW Cherry Shipments Increases 4 Percent

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DSCN4890by Northwest Cherry Growers

Over 75 growers, shippers and field team leaders from across the Northwest Cherry industry met recently to discuss the 2017 cherry crop.

This collective group meets annually to discuss the developing crop potential across the growing districts within each of the 5 member states, and formulates a crop estimate based on attendee input.  The 5-State estimate is often the most accurate look at the crop as it is in real time, provided by growers who have walked out of their orchards and into this meeting.  It does not, however, take into account the annual field team data model and historical algorithms with which we project the NWC’s 4 rounds of estimates.

The round table estimate for the Northwest 2017 sweet cherry crop is 227,000 metric tons or 22.7 million 20 lb. equivalent boxes.   That estimate would put the coming crop 8% larger than last year’s 20.9 million box season.  This crop projection allows for substantial promotional opportunities (and heavy shipments) all season long – late June through August!

Extended bloom and cool spring weather indicate a longer season, stretching from mid-June through the end of August. for cherry shipments.  The 2017 shipping season should last between 90 and 100 days!   Significant volume into the month of August is anticipated.

According to grower reports, early varieties such as Chelan and Santina are currently on track for similar crops to last season’s record early variety shipments.  This strengthens the expectations that once harvest in the Northwest begins, it should accelerate at a rapid velocity.  The attending group in general expects to see harvest begin in the June 12th to 15th window.  Much of Washington’s Bing acreage didn’t set in 2016, but the orchards have rebounded with a slightly larger than average bloom in response this Spring.  Fruit is well-spread throughout the trees and the regions – which bodes well for timing and quality.

The Northwest Rainier crop (including all yellow-fleshed sub-varieties) is reported as looking strong, with many of the growers estimating increases of 20-25% over last year.  The 2015 and 2016 Rainier crops were strikingly similar, and both finished around 1.8 million 15-pound boxes.  We expect to see plenty of fruit in July this year, including around National Rainier Cherry Day on July 11th.

Washington apple shipments – grossing about $4100 to Chicago.


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Record NW Cherry Shipments Occurring

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DSCN4890by Northwest Cherry Growers

Through July 5th, the Northwest cherry industry has shipped over  15 million boxes (20-pound equivalent), including 13.97 million boxes of dark sweets.  Contributing to that was a June that  finished even larger than predictions, with a total of 12.3 million boxes.  That’s a 3 percent increase over last year’s new record of 11.9 million boxes.

Cherries were everywhere for the 4th of July.  And with more retail ads breaking nationally, momentum for cherry shipments out of the holiday appears to be maintained.  In fact, this July 5th saw more cherry shipments than ever before, topping 2012’s record of 523,000 by another 50,000 boxes.  The 7-day shipment average through the 4th holiday (6/28-7/4) was the second highest on record at 452k boxes, with only 2009’s ultra-compressed season seeing more boxes per day at 505,652.

Total Rainier shipments are just below 1.47 million 15-pound boxes. Rainier shipments per day have decreased from a daily high this season of over 95,000 boxes to a weekly average ending on the 5th of 17,000 per day.  However, beautiful cherries remain in some orchards and shipments of yellow cherries will continue to trickle out to displays worldwide.

A study performed by the Nielsen Perishables Group in 2014 found the biggest factor behind a late-season purchase decision by a consumer was, in fact, the awareness that it was the “late season” for cherries… Put another way, roughly 1 out of 3 cherry buyers don’t make their first purchase until they realize it’s their LAST CHANCE TO BUY CHERRIES FOR THE SEASON.

Top retailers each season use that to their advantage, and communicate the late season opportunity by communicating that at the shelf level.  Participants in the North American in-store radio program will be hearing the switch from trivia & Holiday related ads to Buy Now, Freeze Now messaging to support multiple-unit sales. For those with an NWCG Promotional Ad Program in place, promotions are available for circular-inclusion of similar messaging.

Washington cherries – grossing about $6500 to New York City.

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NW Cherry Shipments are Heavy

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DSCN7645by Northwest Cherry Growers

June was a big month for Northwest cherry shipments, and July is looking great as well.

Here in the Northwest we have been graced with mild growing weather the past 10 days.   A cool weather system pushed hot weather out of the region on June 7th.  Growers are reporting that the mild temperatures (70-75 Fahrenheit) during the day and at night (mid 40’s F) have produced large, firm fruit that is loaded with sugars!

This recent run of cooler temperatures has resulted in later varieties being pushed back – some growers are expecting to harvest their Canadian varieties 4 to 5 days later than they did last year.   The Bing Harvest continues at mid-elevation levels throughout Washington, Oregon, Utah and Idaho.  Montana is looking at a June 25th start date this year.   With plenty of Bings left to harvest in the later districts, the earlier growing regions are starting on Skeena and Lapins June 25th.   Significantly, most all of our later growers expect most of their crop in July this year.

Through June 15th the industry has shipped 5,581,665 million 20 lb. equivalent boxes.  Included within that total are 453,909 fifteen-pound boxes of Rainiers. This will certainly be one of the largest Junes on record for a variety of statistics, and retailers who took an early lead with strong promotions are sharing stories of correlating records as well.

With cherry shipments at a full but not yet peak rate, displays and circular ads should be geared to pull in the occasional and impulse-cherry buyers who are more likely to repeat-purchase cherries with earlier exposure.

Consumer media efforts accelerated in conjunction with our season, and the initial results are hitting shelves & inboxes around the world.  Nielsen research indicates that heralding the start of the cherry season is an impactful boost to consumer awareness, even in today’s headline-saturated and social media-driven world.

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NW Cherry Growers Preliminary Shipping Recap

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CherryPixby Northwest Cherry Growers

With the season drawing practically to a close, the Northwest Cherry Growers are reporting a preliminary count of cherry shipments totalling 20.52 million boxes (20-pound equivalent).  That’s less than 00.25% variance from the NWCG round 3 crop estimate published on May 29th, though lower in May and higher in June volume than the curve projection anticipated.  Not only was it the earliest crop in at least 20 years, but it was also bigger than all but two of them (2012, 2014) and over in 81 days.

June saw a record 12.6 million boxes, which included accelerated volume by growers working to stay ahead of the heat waves.  The Northwest has seen high temperatures over the past few years, but the record-shattering heat was an entirely different event.  Statistically speaking, a 1-in-400 years event.  Early season weather challenges also reduced the northwest crop, including an estimated 300,000 boxes of Rainier cherries.

July was the smaller of the two months this season – something we haven’t seen since 2005 (7m June, 4.5m July) – but still delivered 7.4 million boxes.  May shipped just over 380,000 boxes and August saw just over 70,000 boxes.  An August total that low hasn’t been recorded since the 2000 season.   Exports were strong this year, coming in just over 30% of the shipped crop.

Yakima Valley apples and stone fruit – grossing about $6500 to Boston.

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NW Cherry Shipments are Near Pre-Season Estimates

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DSCN2829By Northwest Cherries Growers

Through June 22nd, the Northwest cherry industry has shipped just over 9 million 20-pound boxes.  Despite many growers picking out light on all varieties up to this point,  current shipments put the total crop on a path to finish June close to the pre-season industry estimate.  The first Skeenas and Lapins have shipped.

We look forward to getting into more varieties coming into production, as we climb out of the projected dip in variety availability.  We expect solid picking to continue in earnest for at least the next 2 weeks, with many later growers continuing even after that point.

The Rainier crop has shipped about 1 million boxes shipped to date.  At 8 percent of the total shipped crop to date, that puts the 2015 yellow cherry crop in line with historical percentages despite the fact that we’ve shipped 450,000 more boxes to date than last year’s previous record.  That’s an 89% increase year over year in this window.  For the yellow cherries increased to 2,480 stores this week, from comparatively none the week prior and even fewer (100) the past year.

The Yakima and Wenatchee Valleys combined have been averaging about 1250 truck loads of cherries per week, although volume is expected to decline a little this week.

Washington cherries, apples and pears – grossing about $3150 to Atlanta.


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Northwest Cherry Shipments are Now a Rockin’

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NWcherriesCherry lovers, take note!  The Northwest Cherry Growers have announced cherry season has arrived.  Northwest cherries are being plucked, packed and shipped nationwide by the 2,500 cherry growers spread across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana.

Rich in fiber, potassium, and melatonin, Northwest sweet Bing cherries are also taking center stage in the nutritional arena thanks to a recent USDA study which touts the health benefits of this iconic summer fruit.  According to the results of a study conducted by researchers at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Western Human Nutrition Research Center sweet cherry consumption may “reduce risk or modify the severity of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, CVD, blood pressure and cancer.”

Spearheaded by Darshan S. Kelley, PhD., a Research Chemist at the Western Human Nutrition Research Center, USDA-ARS and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Nutrition at UC Davis, the study examined the effects of fresh sweet cherry consumption on concentrations of risk factors for chronic diseases. Researchers studied 16 women and 2 men who had slightly elevated C-reactive protein levels, an inflammatory biomarker, and who were between the ages of 45 and 61.

According to Dr. Kelley the results show that several interlinked pathways of inflammation were affected and suggest that consuming sweet cherries may reduce risk or modify the severity of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, CVD, blood pressure and cancer. The study took place in two phases, starting in 2006 and the results of the study have been published in the March 2013 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

So, stock up on those Northwest sweet Bing cherries while they are fresh and in season. Simply serve the convenient and nutritional powerhouses in a bowl to share for an easy party snack, or pitted in salads, on oatmeal, or stirred into yogurts and ice cream.  Add them for depth to savory dishes or buy them and freeze them whole for use in smoothies, sauces, and frozen desserts during the winter. Cook up batches of jams or jellies for easy holiday gifts or dehydrate the cherries and add them to trail mixes or granola for a hearty and healthy snack for the kids when school starts in the fall.

For additional information, see this multimedia release from NW Cherries, which features background information, a video, B roll, numerous photos, and a Southwestern Style Cherry Coleslaw recipe.

About Northwest Cherries

Founded in 1947, the Northwest Cherry Growers is a grower’s organization funded solely by self-imposed fruit assessments used to increase awareness and consumption of regionally-grown stone fruits.  The organization is dedicated to the promotion, education, market development, and research of stone fruits from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana orchards.

For more information, visit

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Consumption of Cherries May Be Healthy, Study Cites

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IMG_6825Eating sweet Bing cherries significantly decreases circulating concentrations of specific inflammatory biomarkers in human blood.  At least that is the “anecdotal support” resulting from a recent scientifc study by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Western Human Nutrition Center.

“It represents seven years of research and work by the growers and the USDA to better understand the nutritional benefits of our sweet cherries,” said James Michael, vice president of marketing, North America for Northwest Cherry Growers and the Washington State Fruit Commission. “We’re proud to pass the word along.”

“Many studies by other investigators have demonstrated that some of those inflammation markers are associated with increased risk for some chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer,” said Kent Erickson, professor at the University of California Davis School of Medicine and a collaborator on the study.

The findings of the study were published in the March 2013 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

 “The study was initiated in 2006 and supported financially by the Northwest Cherry Growers,” Michael said. The purpose was to examine the effects of fresh sweet cherry consumption on concentrations of risk factors for chronic diseases.

Sixteen 16 women and two men were part of the research study.  They  had slightly elevated C-reactive protein levels, an inflammatory biomarker, and who were between the ages of 45 and 61. According to initial results, a reduction of the protein levels was detected in the subjects after consumption of sweet cherries.

“In 2010, researchers used automated methodology to examine a broad spectrum of 89 biomarkers of diseases with stored frozen plasma samples,” Northwest Cherry Growers wrote. “A second round of more detailed analysis demonstrated that cherries had more systemic impact than originally observed. The further testing showed that the sweet cherries had an effect on nine biomarkers rather than just the three originally identified.”

Kelley’s results showed that sweet cherry consumption may “reduce risk or modify the severity of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, CVD, blood pressure and cancer,” according to Northwest Cherry Growers.

Michael said a new sweet cherry powder has also been created for use in further scientific studies.

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