Rain delayed the start of the California cherry season, but damages were minimal and the start still earlier than others years, shippers said.

Of the early varieties harvested by Dinuba, Calif.-based King Fresh Produce LLC, 5% at most were lost to the rains April 8-9, said Keith Wilson, the company’s owner.

And King Fresh’s April 21 start date for packing was as early as the company has ever had, he said.

“The crop in general looks good, and we should have good volumes. We’re really optimistic about this season.”

King Fresh expects to be shipping promotable California volumes by May 2-3.

Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers LLC began shipping California fruit the week of April 18, with lighter volumes than initially expected, said Brianna Shales, the company’s communications manager.

Losses of early brooks and royal varieties were unknown as of April 20, but were not expected to significantly affect this season’s California volumes.

“It’s kind of a slower start than we initially forecast, but we still have a lot of cherries on the horizon, and will be in volume by May 2. We’ll still hit the Mother’s Day window.”

And as a silver lining to the rains, which thinned trees, early fruit should be on the big side as a result, Shales said.