Promotable volumes of high-quality Washington cherries are expected into August, with the industry still on track for a record year.
Bings and rainiers were both reaching peak volumes the week of July 2 at Selah, Wash.-based Rainier Fruit Co., said Suzanne Wolter, marketing director.
Sizes were beginning to peak on larger 10½-row and some 10-row, Wolter said.
Bing sizes have been running one-half to one size smaller than usual this season, with fruit peaking on 10½- and 11-row instead of 10-row, said Eric Patrick, Yakima, Wash.-based marketing manager for Oakland, Calif.-based Grant J. Hunt Co.
“We’re hoping the later varieties get back to bigger sizes,” he said.
After some weather-related issues at the beginning of summer, Rainier looked forward to drier, warmer conditions in July.
“We had some rain on and off, but right now it looks pretty good,” Wolter said July 3.
Despite the late June rains, Rainier still had plenty of high-quality fruit for Fourth of July promotions, Wolter said.
Looking past the holiday, Wolter said retailers have bought into the concept of promoting cherries throughout July this season.
“We have a significant number of promotions in place,” she said. “Retailers have really embraced it.”
On July 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $32-34 for 18-pound cartons of Washington bings 10-row, down from $36-38 last year at the same time.
Most retail customers of Grant J. Hunt were committed to keeping cherries on ad into August, Patrick said. Shippers will need it, he said. Retail per-pound prices will likely dip below $3 to keep fruit moving, he said.
“We need consumers to fall in love with cherries into August, because we have a lot of them,” he said. “It looks like the huge numbers they were estimating are out there, and the biggest days are still ahead of us.”
As of July 3, the Washington industry was poised to follow through on projections for a record-size crop, Patrick said.
Markets will likely weaken in early- to mid-July as volumes reach their highest levels of the season, then strengthen later in the month as supplies diminish, Wolter said. Rainier expects to ship cherries into late August.