Another year, another summer of extreme weather, fires, hurricanes, droughts, storms, flooding, again we find ourselves barraged with head- lines of how terrible the summer was regarding climate. High temperatures are labeled as excruciating, record-breaking temperatures are called devastating, every tropical storm is reported to bring catastrophe to the US and other countries, floods are “never before seen” and droughts are deadly. When it comes to the Northwest states many of these headlines were accurate. July was the hottest recorded July in history around the world. The western drought in the United States has been significant and it has negatively affected the NW Cherry industry. The weather trends of 2021 were both fairly normal in the Spring … then bizarrely extreme in late June and July. As always in the Northwest Cherry industry, we take the high road and are left to view the Summer of 2021 as an “outlier” whose weather components are best viewed as a one-time anomaly and not an annual event.
During the spring of 2021, the Northwestern US was a little wetter than anticipated with an increase in late winter. A cool early May slowed the degree day development across the growing districts enough to push the first harvest back to June 1 in our earliest orchards. Unfortunately, the extreme heat we saw in June and July served to push the crop together a bit … which also included growers trying to avert disaster by harvesting ahead of the heat dome that saw June temperatures exceed 118 degrees Fahrenheit.