California cherry season is right around the corner.

Grower-shippers expect to start harvesting their 2013 crops on schedule — in late April or early May.

California cherry harvest nearsEarly-season prices should be more moderate than a year ago, when weather damage resulted in light crops in the southern and central parts of the San Joaquin Valley.

Last year, prices in mid-May for 16-pound cartons of bagged brooks and tulare cherries from the San Joaquin Valley ranged from $40-45 for 12-row size to $65-68 for 10-row size, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By June 1, prices on tulares had dropped to $28 to $55.

The brooks crop looks good in Arvin, Skip Foppiano, owner of Stockton, Calif.-based Morada Produce Co., said April 12.

Overall, “The quality looks very good this year — not too many spurs or doubles,” he said.

The cherries also are sizing well, Foppiano said.

Kyle Mathison, a grower and partner in Wenatchee, Wash-based Stemilt Growers Inc., also anticipates a great California cherry season.

California cherry harvest nearsCherries are in the process of changing from green to a straw color, he said, and that indicates that the fruit is about three weeks away from harvest.

“Consumers are really going to light up when they find these beautiful, red cherries,” he said.

Delta Packing Co. of Lodi Inc., Lodi, Calif., expects to start harvesting in late April, said general manager Paul Poutre.

“Initial quality reports from the field look like it should be a nice crop of brooks and corals,” he said.

Because of a few hot days during the bloom period, this season’s tulare crop didn’t set as well as last year’s, he added, but fruit size and quality should be good.