The Northwest cherry harvest is set to begin next week, but farmers are a bit glum. That’s because the National Weather Service says this month’s temperatures will be near or below average across Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Cool weather and rain can delay ripening and compress the cherry growing season. That means that markets have less time to sell the perishable fruit. Plus, farmers may have a harder time recruiting enough labor in a shortened season.
And there’s another problem according to the Washington Fruit Commission's B.J. Thurlby. He says rain can spoil the fruit on the branch.
The fruits’ skins are stretched taut near harvest and, "a cherry is a living organism," Thurlby says. "What happens is that the water gets drank into the cherry from the crown ... Too much water can result in a cherry that will crack.”
Thurlby does take heart that even with June’s cool forecast, cherry harvest does last until August. And the orchards are spread across a 700 mile range so some cherries will escape the rain.
Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio