ConservasJul. 20, 2011
Cosecha 2011 en Montana sería dentro del promedio
It’s shaping up to be an average but later-than-normal cherry harvest in the Flathead Valley, several cherry growers said this week.
Dale Nelson, president of the Flathead Lake Cherry Growers, said the 2011 harvest could be the latest ever. “Probably no one will pick until July 28,” Nelson said. “And we expect most people to pick through mid-August.” Some years, the local cherry harvest has begun in early July, but normally the cherries are ripe in mid-July, Nelson said. The cherry growers’ cooperative owns a warehouse at Finley Point, which Nelson said should open this year on July 27 or 28. Overall, the crop weight appears to be a little below average, Nelson said. He expects local growers to harvest about 2 million pounds of cherries.
An average crop here is 2.5 million pounds. Last year’s harvest was excellent, and growers delivered 2.75 million pounds of cherries to the processing plant, he said. Cherries are ripening later this year because of the cool spring and early summer temperatures in the valley, Nelson and other growers said. But a late harvest this year isn’t particularly bad news for valley growers, Nelson said, because the Washington cherry crop is late. Timing is everything in the cherry business, Nelson and grower Louise Swanberg said. Flathead growers want their fruit to hit the market after the Washington cherries are sold out. Being the lone player in the game later in the summer tends to drive prices up, Nelson said. “When the Washington crop hits the market, prices drop a little,” Swanberg said. But it appears the timing of harvests this year bodes well for Montana growers, she said.
“We always want the demand to exceed the supply,” Swanberg said. “So even if we don’t have a boomer crop, we will have the price we need to stay in business.” Grower Gary Hoover says the annual drop in his orchard didn’t occur until July, several weeks later than it happens most years. Fruit drops off of trees when a tree “can’t hold that much fruit,” Hoover said. He estimated his trees dropped about 50 percent of their fruit. The drop is important in helping cherries grow larger, Hoover said. “Size is everything,” he said. “Without the drop, you have too many cherries on a tree and the fruit is too small.” Hoover expects a medium crop this year at his Orchard Estates on Montana 35 near Bigfork. He doesn’t expect to begin picking until the first week of August. His 180 trees are lapins and Rainiers. Hoover and his wife, Susan, plan to set up their Gary’s Cherries roadside stand this year. The Hoovers don’t always sell from a roadside stand but had good success last year, so they decided to set up a stand again this year