While the apple market has seen a multitude of proprietary varieties, Clement said cherries don’t share that trend.
“I do think we will see some proprietary varieties pop up, but I sure don’t know of any big push on the proprietary side on cherries,” Clement said.
The prospect of mechanical harvesting is years away, Clement said.
“For mechanical harvesting, you need to set up your orchard in a certain way to make that happen, and those orchards that were planted five years ago aren’t viable for mechanical harvesting,” he said. “I think we are going to have to come up with options that require less labor in the long term.”
Overlap with California may be a recurring issue as growers in that state are planting later varieties.
“Our early deal is pretty well set, so if they go later it increases overlap,” Clement said.
The late season cherry deal will see changes in the years ahead, said Chris Falk, vice president of Washington Fruit & Produce.
“It seems like there will be some acreage pulled and/or replanted in coming years as certain varieties gain or lose favor depending on harvest timing and other factors,” Falk said.
“There’s still a lot of young acreage in the ground not producing yet, especially on the late end of the crop, and the industry is still sorting out which varieties are desired by customers and/or efficient to farm.”
The future will be strong for Northwest cherries, said Scott Marboe, director of marketing for Oneonta Trading, Wenatchee. He said he believes “it is only going to grow stronger.
“The state has done an excellent job in growing the right varieties and bringing an great piece of fruit to the consumers.”