In the Pacific Northwest, our fresh cherry crop harvest begins in late May or early June. With over 60,000 acres across 5 states, we are expecting to have a quality crop of fruit for market in 2020. However, the work of growing sweet cherries is a year-round affair and it’s getting longer, thanks to the evident spread of a group of pathogens collectively referred to as Little Cherry Disease. New research from a multi-state task force indicates that beyond tree and/or orchard removal, it’s necessary to control the vectors within orchards for months past harvest, adding additional costs and challenges to already burdened growers. Beyond that, it appears that intervention has removed several million boxes of production capability for the coming season. For several years growers across the Northwest have been feeling the effects of a group of pathogens collectively called Little Cherry Disease (LCD).
Though different in nature, this group of viruses and bacteria cause the same results: small, under-developed and bitter fruit. Researchers have narrowed down their spread between orchards to several insects who carry LCD on their bodies, though the exact method of insect relocation between orchards or spots within an orchard is still yet to be confirmed.
What we do know is that our industry’s orchard practices and packing technology ensure none of the small, bitter fruit is shipped for consumers. The high quality of Northwest cherries is a standard throughout the world, and we are committed to maintaining that bar. Even though it’s been an orchard issue for several years, our shipped crop 5-year average is 80 percent 10.5 row and larger, which is an increase over the 10-year and 15-year averages.