“We should be in really great shape for a great season,” said Loren Queen, marketing and communications manager for Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, Wash.
Queen said he expects the first peak of volume for Northwest cherries by June 20, providing plenty of lead time for July 4 ads.
“Growers have a chance to get some money back,” Pepperl said.
Retailers also will have plenty of promotional opportunities, Pepperl said.
He speculated that retail ad prices for dark sweet cherries could range from $1.99-2.99 for most promotions, with some niche deals from $3.99-5.99 per pound, depending on cherry size.
Northwest marketers expect the crop of Northwest cherries, which is smaller than last year’s, to find a longer selling window.
And fruit size should be stronger than last season.
The bloom period for the Northwest cherry crop was expanded compared with last year, said Mac Riggan, vice president of marketing for Chelan Fresh Marketing, Chelan, Wash.
Last year, on average, the earliest bloom was about April 12 and the latest bloom was May 1. Most of the 2009 cherries from the Northwest came off in 74 days.
This year, the longer bloom period will leave a larger marketing window for the crop. The harvest window could stretch closer to 91 days than 75 days, Riggan said.
Another boost to the market is the likelihood of larger fruit favored by retailers.
After poor market conditions left some smaller fruit on the trees last season, growers have been pruning fairly heavily to produce larger fruit this year, said Eric Patrick, Yakima, Wash.-based marketing director for the Grant J. Hunt Co.
“Growers have been pushing to make sure the trees offer the best fruit possible,” he said. That should be good for the size and quality of the crop.
A bigger marketing window and improved size should create plenty of strong selling opportunities from June through mid-August, with limited volumes available even later.
Marketers believe this year should be a rebound year for everyone.
“Last year was a little sad for everybody on different levels,” Tabak said. “We need a good cherry year for everyone, where everyone wins again.”