Actualidad nacional e internacionalJul. 20, 2021
EE.UU: Northwest Cherry Growers estima pérdidas del 20% de la producción de cerezas por ola de calor
Rainier cherry trees are typically picked multiple times each season in Frank Lyall’s orchards in the Lower Yakima Valley.
But extreme heat conditions at the end of June damaged many of those red-yellow cherries. Some trees were picked fewer times, while some weren’t picked at all.
Lyall, who has orchards in Grandview, Prosser and Mattawa, said this season could have been worse. By the time the heat arrived, workers had picked most of the cherries.
“I feel we were fairly fortunate,” Lyall said. “I understand there were a significant number of orchards (that) weren’t able to finish picking at their orchards or had to divert their orchards to processors.”
An extreme heat wave caused significant damage to cherries grown in the Yakima Valley and the Northwest in late June and early July. The high reached 113 in Yakima on June 29, an all-time record.
The heat caused various issues, such as sunburn and stunted growth, that made the cherries unsuitable for the fresh cherry market. Many cherries were left on the trees while others were picked but processed. Processing provides a lower return to growers than the fresh cherry market.
Northwest Cherry Growers is still assessing the damage, but President B.J. Thurlby estimates that about 20% of the overall crop was lost due to heat conditions. Much of the loss came in the Yakima Valley, where cherries were about to be picked. The Northwest cherry growing region includes five states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana.
In May, the Yakima-based organization estimated a crop of 23.8 million 20-pound boxes in the five-state growing region. Thurlby said the yield this season is now likely in the 18 million to 19 million box range, which would nearly match the 2020 crop. Last year’s crop also was affected by weather, namely frost and wind in the months leading up to harvest.
A few cherry varieties received a disproportionate amount of damage: Bing and Skeena, two red-fleshed cherry varieties, and the popular Rainier. Most of the damage was to Skeena, which is generally picked after Bing.
Other varieties, such as Lapin and Sweetheart, picked later in the cherry season, had far less damage.
Harvest will wrap up in the Upper Yakima Valley in the next week. Cherry harvest in other parts of Washington and the Northwest and wrap up in the next few weeks. Cherries will remain available through the first few weeks of August.
Rowe Farms, which grows cherries in several different orchards in the Yakima Valley, will wrap up its harvest with Sweetheart cherries.
Morgan Rowe said some blocks in his orchards could not be picked at all due to heat damage. Other blocks of cherries were partially damaged.
The amount of damage depended on the tree’s location, namely the elevation and whether it had more direct sunlight, he said. Rowe, who runs Rowe Farms, has orchards throughout the Yakima Valley, including Naches.
“(With) Skeena, there have been other heat-related issues. That wasn’t a real surprise,” Rowe said. But the excessive heat “took them down as we have never seen before.”
yakimaherald.com/July 13, 2021