U.S.: Northwest cherry crop set to be area's "third-largest ever"

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U.S.: Northwest cherry crop set to be area's

Northwest cherry growers are expected to harvest a large crop in the coming months which is set to be later than normal, reports Yakima Herald.

The five-state Northwest cherry growing region is projected to harvest 24.9 million 20-pound boxes this year, according to an estimate released Tuesday by Northwest Cherry Growers, which promotes cherries grown in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Utah.

That amount would be below the 25.4 million and 26.4 million boxes harvested in 2018 and 2017, respectively, but still the third-largest ever for the region if the estimate holds.

The forecast is based on the packhouse and grower reports from about 10 days earlier, said B.J. Thurlby, president of the Northwest Cherry Growers.

As for the start of the harvest, it's expected to be a few weeks later this year, due to snow and cold temperatures in February and March that slowed cherry growth, Thurlby commented. That may create issues with planned retail promotions.

“Being two weeks later than normal, will we have enough to fill the domestic market before the 4th?” Thurlby was quoted as asking, referring to the Fourth of July holiday, a crucial promotion period for the region's cherry industry.

Thurlby is also watching the California cherry market. The state has an earlier harvest and initial forecasts pointed to it having a record crop this year. If the two markets overlap, the greater supply could lead to depressed prices.

Meanwhile, shipments to China, formerly the primary export market for Northwest cherries, dropped to 1.7 million boxes in 2018 as a result of the Eastern nation's hike in tariffs on numerous U.S. products last year.

Northwest cherries are not currently among the items slated for additional duties as part of new tariffs China imposed on the U.S. Monday, “But the escalation puts a dark cloud over the market for the season,” Thurlby was quoted as saying.

Read the full article here.

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