In early May, chelans and garnets begin harvest before bings - which represent more than half the state's crop - start in mid-May and run through mid-June.
Rossi said he expects northern bing production to peak the first week in June and wrap up in mid-June. Washington typically starts its harvest the first week in June.
California's crop marks the first significant cherry volume in the North American market since Chile's winter imports.
"There's not many cherries after late January," Sambado said. "It's important to get the southern district off on the right foot with the best quality possible."
California's cherry season starts slightly ahead of the state's stone fruit, meaning it has little competition in the produce department.
"Cherries are one of the few items that still have some seasonality," Sambado said. "You get excitement generated for cherries. They sell quite well throughout North America. We have an advantage in that aspect."
Pepperl said Stemilt hopes for three weeks of ads out of retailers, starting in late May and early June.
Jim Stewart, president of WesPak Sales Inc., Dinuba, Calif., said on April 6 that some very limited picking could take place the last few days of April, but that he thought the season would really begin about May 1 and that harvesting would continue for about five weeks.
"We'll start wrapping up the cherry deal at the end of May," he said.
WesPak grows brooks and tulare cherries in Hanford and Reedley. The company's cherries are not packed at the WesPak facilities in Dinuba but are trucked to Lodi for packing. However, WesPak markets the crop.
Staff writer Don Schrack contributed to this report.