EASTERN WASHINGTON – Washington’s annual cherry harvest officially began this week after a growing season that included a few ups and downs and a bit of uncertainty.
Pickers are busy laboring to get the fruit off the state’s trees as quickly as possible while the region’s sorting and packing companies bring their operations up to full speed to accommodate the thousands of incoming orders they are already receiving from around the globe.
The organization Northwest Cherry Growers estimates that roughly 24 million 20-pound boxes will be produced in the five-state growing area they represent, which includes Washington.
Many of the region’s dark sweet varieties, like the popular Bing cherry, appear to be in good shape and equal quantity to last year as the harvest began, although a few of its red varietals, such as the Sweetheart, appear to be slightly down in number from 2018 due to a late blooming cycle.
Yellow cherry types, like the Rainier and Early Robin, are also expected to yield slightly smaller crops over last year’s numbers, down from 2.5 million boxes to around 2 million.
Northwest Cherry Growers expects approximately 9 million boxes to ship by the end of this month, followed by nearly 14 million in July and 1.5 million in August before the season officially wraps up.