The Valley’s cherry season cut short this year because of this unseasonable rain.
Expect the summertime treat to be missing from many local grocery stores and Memorial Day picnics.
President and owner of King Fresh Produce Keith Wilson says rain damage to cherries is bad enough in some cases to make it not worth the cost for farmers to harvest.
“If a grower can pack seven out of ten cherries or possibly eight out of ten cherries, that’s considered a good pack-out. When we have rain issues like this, and the pack-out numbers drop down to 40%, it becomes uneconomical to put the labor into the field to pick the fruit and to bring fruit into the packing house.”
The rain causes cherries on the trees to swell and split. Once the skin splits, mold can grow.
Wilson says the market may loosen somewhat once other varieties start to ripen, “For instance, the Tulare variety which is still coming up, is somewhat resistant to rain. But when we have so much rain, even that variety can have quality issues.”
The extent of the crop damage will be more clear by next week.