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Rain concerns cherry growers

Cherry harvest is happening early in the Central Valley, but recent rain could damage some of the fruit.
Cherry season is just getting underway here in the valley.  Growers are harvesting the fruit and accessing damage caused by the recent storm.

Cherry season is very short and the fruit still on the trees is most susceptible.  Since the rain was sporadic it didn't have the same impact on growers in every region of the valley.  Extreme wind and rain is not good for cherries on the tree.  It can cause splitting and bruising, but thankfully the latest rain doesn't appear to have caused significant damage.

Judy and Steve Holtkamp made a special trip to Harry's Cherries stand off 41 and American to buy their first bags of the season.

“They are just so precious, who could resist these?” said Holtkamp.

The stand has been open since Saturday.  It was an early harvest because of the warm weather, but the last few days of rain have growers checking and rechecking their fruit.

“What we're concerned about now is this beautiful ripe fruit we're trying to pick tomorrow could split,” said Vicki Erickson of Erickson Farms.

Erickson says the says the cherry business is not for the faint of heart.  Poor conditions can wipe out an entire year of hard work.

“It's so unpredictable that you could take all the notes you want to this year then basically throw it in the trash can because each year is different,” said Erickson.

That unpredictability also makes them in hot demand.  99% of Erickson's fruit goes to packing houses to be shipped all over.  The rest is up for grabs at the local stand.

“They never make it to the kitchen. We eat them just as they are. Most of them won't make it home,” said Holtkamp.

Picking will continue in the next several days and weeks.  The short cherry season could even last until Memorial Day weekend.

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Fresno, CA

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