“I am hopeful that we will have a normal cherry season this year,” says Andre Bailey with Global Fruit out of Creston, British Columbia. “We are in the business of late cherries, so we want the season to start late and this year is looking like it. In Creston, we still have 1.5 foot of snow on the ground while last year, all snow was gone by mid-March and we were mowing on March 1st.” This winter, Creston had the most snow in the past 20 years.
Because of the warm spring, last year’s harvest season started three weeks early and ran from the first week of June until August 14. A normal harvest season starts around June 25th and finishes in September.
Nice late cherry crop
Although it is a long time until the cherry crop is on the trees, Bailey is optimistic that this year’s crop will be very good. “We are doing some bud cutting right now and are seeing a lot of cherries that will develop into 3-4 clusters or 4-5 clusters. The 3-4 clusters in particular have a really nice set and tell us that this could be a fairly heavy crop.” Last year’s weather was conducive to bud development and it looks to be a really nice late cherry crop. “Once the blossom sets, we have a good idea of the harvest dates and are able to set the harvest start date within a range of five days,” shared Bailey.
Canadian cherry market hinges on Washington
The Canadian cherry market hinges on the Washington cherry season. “Our best years are when Washington has a great year with high quality,” mentioned Bailey. “We always hope they have the best possible weather as it results in excellent quality cherries. When the consumer buys high quality Washington cherries, they get excited and will come back later in the season and buy Canadian cherries. However, when consumers have been disappointed with quality earlier in the season, they will turn to other fruit varieties for the remainder of summer.”
Global Fruit distributes its cherries to 22 countries around the globe. The US is the number one export market, followed by China. “The Chinese prefer high quality cherries that are firm with a good sugar level,” said Bailey. Canada’s climate with colder nights produces just that. “As long as we ship the right quality, China will continue to ask for them.”