Peak Washington cherry supply ahead for July 4th weekend

From Fresh Plaza | 4 June 2024

Overview of cherries from Washington in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on June 3, 2024.

Washington is seeing a slightly delayed start on its cherry crop from what was originally projected. “It’s been a really mild spring, so the cherries aren’t progressing as quickly as we’ve seen in years past,” says Joel Hewitt of CMI Orchards. “That’s a good thing because there’s still some California product out there and the less overlap the better for everyone.”

Production will embark next week with the state expected to reach peak supply the week of June 10, with that peak lasting for about four weeks. “That peak normally lasts five to six weeks when we have a stronger late-season crop. This year some of our high-elevation orchards were compromised because of the cold temperatures we had in January,” says Hewitt. “These orchards typically carry us into late July through mid to late August so we anticipate fewer late summer cherries in the market. Our recommendation to retailers is to start strong and to keep their foot on the gas all season long to make sure cherries are promoted, featured, prominently positioned and those impulse purchases are captured as much as possible.”

cherry volumes by histor 3

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

As for the crop, it is a good-sized crop that’s very evenly distributed amongst the trees. That even set means there’s a good chance for great quality large cherries because more energy and nutrients are being put into cherries still hanging. “Too many cherries on the trees typically results in smaller fruit, so finding the right cherry-to-tree ratio, using techniques like blossom thinning to manage this balance, is important for growing healthy-sized cherries,” said Hewitt.

With the good supply, Hewitt also thinks this season might be one for retailers to consider different varieties of cherries such as CMI’s Skylar Rae cherries or Strawberry cherries. “The Rainier cherries look to be comparable to last year in volume and it seems like there’s going to be great domestic and export demand there. We’ll have a good supply of high-quality Rainier cherries this year as well as the red cherries.”

Holiday timing

Meanwhile, timing does look to be on Washington’s side this year, even with the later start. “It looks like the California crop was able to service the Memorial Day ad really well this year. For the Northwest, we’ll have excellent peak timing for the 4th of July ad which is great,” says Hewitt. He also notes that the Memorial Day weekend movement momentum should stay strong through the Washington season.

Though with B.C. having such a small cherry crop this season due to weather issues, this will in turn put demand pressure on the end of the Washington crop.

Retail pricing is a bit more aggressive than last year. “With the overall tonnage of cherries being supplied out of the United States between California and Washington, the supply will stay somewhat level to the point where we hope that retail pricing stays level,” he says. “It gives us a good opportunity to maintain these prices and still move through the crop.”

cherry prices by history

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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