WENATCHEE, WA - Eat just one cherry? Impossible. In fact, give me the whole bag. I know I am not the only consumer of this mindset, which is why your cherry set had better be locked and loaded this time of year. Stemilt is one grower on a mission to deliver the most delicious cherries it can, and I recently got in touch with Marketing Director Brianna Shales to see how the season is coming along.
“The market is looking tight as we near the end of our California cherry season and await the start of our Washington season,” she told me. “This is the first time in many years where the California and Washington cherry growing regions will have a gap between their harvests. This is due to a cool spring in the Northwest that has delayed the start of Washington cherries until almost mid-June.”
Brianna relayed that Washington has had the coldest spring in over 100 years, which has caused a widespread bloom, less volume throughout key harvest periods, and a later start to the season. Stemilt is anticipating its longest season yet in Washington as its highest elevation orchards are just coming into full bloom.
“Overall, we’ve been very pleased with the fruit size and quality that we’ve harvested in California,” Brianna told me as we took a closer look at the current season. “The state had less volume than the year prior, and the lighter crop load on the tree combined with our growing practices led to great fruit quality overall. We expect the great size and quality trend to continue as we begin harvest in Washington.”
Brianna also noted that the gap in supply may lead to some changes in terms of pricing as well.
“The shorter crop in the Northwest is going to lead to higher prices than normal, simply because demand is greater than supply. We are anticipating great quality that will help drive consumer satisfaction and their repeat purchase,” she said. “Every cherry week matters at retail because they are a seasonal item with high demand and bring a lot of dollars to produce departments every summer. It’s going to be important to stay with the crop and market in order to make the most out of this unique cherry season.”
The way I see it, challenges create an opportunity to get creative and try something new. So, be sure to make strategic decisions this cherry season as supplies continue coming down the pike.