Cherries in container at farmers marketUnprecedented weather events wreaked havoc on cherry farmers over the last few years. Last year’s wet weather placed the timing of the California cherry harvest in direct competition with producers in neighboring states. Since cherries do not stay fresh in storage, this caused prices to fall.

Some Oregon cherry farmers harvest less than 75% of their cherry orchards due to the surplus. This situation places the economic well-being of the orchard at risk. Economic losses at orchards in Michigan have resulted in farmers pulling up trees. President of the Washinton State Tree Fruit Association Jon DeVaney says cherries are more vulnerable to climate stress than apples or pears. The crop is unable to be stored for long periods.

Producers have developed creative plans to address this problem. In the Pacific Northwest trees are being planted in non-traditional locations in an effort to extend the season. By using different elevations, the harvest dates can be staggered.

Read more about the weather-related challenge facing cherry producers here.