After mid-April weather delays, cherry growers of the Northwest have released their first crop estimate of the year.
They predict they will harvest roughly 150,000 tons, or 15 million 20-pound box equivalents, of sweet cherries in 2022 and begin harvest in the earliest regions around May 28, according to a seasonal update from Northwest Cherry Growers, a Yakima, Washington, nonprofit that collectively promotes cherries from the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah under a federal marketing order.
If the estimate holds, 2022 would be the second consecutive relatively small crop; 150,000 tons would fall roughly 8 percent below the 180,000 tons shipped in 2021, a year limited by record-setting summer heat. The previous four years hit roughly 200,000 tons or more.
This year, rain, wind, frost and snow in the mid-April pollination window forced Northwest Cherry Growers to delay its first crop estimate. The weather, which started off rather warm, also stretched the bloom season.
“Before the arrival of the cold, the Northwest was on track for one of the earliest blooms in recent record,” the crop update read. “ … The unusual cool weather morphed the bloom into both one of our earlier starting and later finishing blooms. This bodes well for both early and late season cherry supplies for the shelves.”
Each season, Northwest Cherry Growers publishes several crop estimates, calculated by reports from more than a dozen field representatives and growers. Changes are common as growing conditions progress.
—by Ross Courtney