Cherry shippers expect good quality, ample supplies

04/21/2010 02:53:20 PM
Andy Nelson

Volume shipments should begin in the first week of May, she said. Because of those rains, production is expected to lull slightly the third week in May, but not enough to have much of an effect on markets, Tabak said.

The Green Giant deal will begin in Arvin, then shift to Stockton later in the season, she said.

Tabak reported very good quality, with very few “doubles” — two cherries on one stem. And while it was too early to tell for sure, she said in late March that growers expected good size profile.

Initial reports suggested an early start to the deal, but in early April, Stockton, Calif.-based Grower Direct Marketing LLC was forecasting a more typical April 20-25 start to the deal, with volumes following the first week in May, said Jimmy Williams, the company’s domestic and export sales manager.

Williams expected a produc-tion boost compared to the company’s 2009 cherry crop.

“So far, we’ve had pretty good weather in Arvin,” he said. “The overall size should be similar to two years ago — not a limb-buster by any means, but a little heavier set than last year.”

Cold weather the week of March 29 could set back the Stockton/Lodi deal back a bit, Williams said. Instead of peak-ing in late May, the region could see its peak fall in early June, he said.

“Traditionally people want to (peak) for Memorial Day,” he said. “There will certainly be some volume this year, but there will be more the first week of June.”

Initially, there were concerns about an overlap with Washing-ton because of California’s slightly later peak and reports of an early Washington crop, Williams said.

But Washington also was getting cold weather in late March and early April, possibly pushing its deal back as well, he said.

Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers Inc., said even if there is a significant overlap between California and Washington, it won’t likely have a negative effect on shippers from either state.

That’s because early fruit from Washington will likely be on the large side, complementing smaller fruit from Califor-nia, he said.

Stemilt expects to begin its California deal in a light way at the end of April and wind down by mid-June, Pepperl said.

“It looks like a good season,” he said. “The majority of the crop will be retailed in June, but there will be a lot of fruit in May to sell, too.”

Quality was expected to be good, though Pepperl said fruit from some California shippers could be on the small side.


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