California Sweet Cherry Production Drops 63 Percent

2014 California sweet cherry production is forecast at 30,000 tons, down 63 percent from the 2013 crop and the smallest crop since 1998, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento.

The forecast is based on 33,000 bearing acres.

California growers mostly produce the popular Bing sweet cherry from Sacramento in the north to Bakersfield in the south.

The warm dry winter reduced chilling hours which combined with poor pollination resulted in minimal crop set and record-low yields.

Many growers reported crop failures and chose not to harvest.

Meanwhile, the sweet cherry harvest in the northwestern U.S. is underway and the crop looks good.

James Michael of the Northwest Cherry Growers says weather conditions produced an early crop expected to last through August. Growers are expecting a benchmark year for flavor, size, and color.

Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah produce two-thirds of the nation’s sweet cherry crop.

Overall, 2014 U.S. sweet cherry production is forecast at 326,240 tons, down 2 percent from last year.

A recent USDA study concluded that sweet cherry consumption can help prevent chronic inflammatory diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.

Sweet cherries also contain melatonin which can improve sleep quality.

There are seven regional varieties of sweet cherries including Bing cherries – the most popular in North America – and Rainiers developed at Washington State University in 1952.

Other types of sweet cherries include Skeenas, Sweethearts, Tietons, the heart-shaped Chelan, and the late-season Lapins.

Cherries are members of the Rosaceae family in the subfamily Prunoideae, and a distant cousin to peaches, plums, apricots, and almonds. California Bing cherries are members of the species Prunus avium.

Bing cherries grown today come from stock dating back to the 1800s when California became an established cherry production region.

Source: Western Farm Press 

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