( Courtesy Stemilt Growers )

Retailers should expect anything but a California cherry season like last year, according to Stemilt Growers, Wenatchee, Wash..

A late spring brings unknowns to the cherry market, but Stemilt, which has decades of experience growing and marketing the fruit, also has a predictive model using current and historical data to make harvest timing and yield predictions, according to a news release.

“California’s cherry trees bloomed much later than last season and retailers need to know that, so they adjust their retail promotion plans,” Roger Pepperl, marketing director, said in the release. “While Mother Nature is keeping us waiting on the crop volume in California, we do know that any volume the industry has coming will come between May 20 and June 20.”

Stemilt, which grows in California and Washington, relies on data to guide its decisions, particularly in seasons like this one when harvest times vary from the norm, according to the release.

 The company compares bloom dates to historical data, overlapping that with soil and environmental temperatures. Field staff visits orchards to identify full bloom and study the crop load on trees, according to the release.

“This year, we knew during bloom that the average temperatures and bloom timing would never align to harvest the bulk of the California crop as early as year’s past,” Pepperl said in the release. “We know its late and must prepare retailers for plan adjustments to promote this crop at the right moment.”

Ideal loading time for California cherries will be May 20-June 20, with opportunities to promote for Labor Day, May 27.

“We are optimistic that June will be a big month for California cherries and early predictions into Washington’s crop means a nice transition coming between the two states,” Pepperl said in the release. “Cherries are a huge dollar generator to produce departments and retailers can rely on our intelligence to make their entire season profitable.”

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