2023 in the U.S.; a year of difficulty and request for aid

2023 in the U.S.; a year of difficulty and request for aid

2023 ended up being a losing year for many sweet cherry growers in the Pacific Northeast.
U.S. cherries 2023

As in many other places, the extreme and unusual weather conditions left with undesired consequences such as overlapping blooms and short harvest times.

As it was reported by the American website, Good Fruit Growers, around 70% of the cherries ripened in a period of one month, instead of the usual period of three months. But how does this translate? Mainly in the capacity of the supply chain and market, which is exceeded, generating a really difficult outlook for the industry.

This scenario has led to requests by producers for disaster designations that could open the door to federal financial assistance. While this aid is primarily delivered to those affected by natural disasters such as forest fires, droughts or storms, advocates say the consequences of the past year have results that are equally difficult to confront, with climate change also being the reason.

Norm Gutzwiler, a Wenatchee-area grower and board member of the Washington State Fruit Commission, explained to the outlet that “this was nothing (but) a bad rainstorm, but with no water. We lost the crop,” he said. “We have to be able to put a quality product on the market for the consumer, and they couldn’t get all the fruit moved quick enough. We can’t do much about the fact that it was a condensed season, that’s just Mother Nature.” 

Extreme climatic phenomena and their consequences on crops have another parallel consequence, which is the decrease in fruit prices or in some cases, even the loss of the harvest, as the fruit is smaller and cannot be sold on the market.

Overlap with California

Many Northwest growers point at the California crop, which came in at 10 million 18-pound boxes (double the 2022 harvest) and stretched into the traditional Northwest market after a long, cold spring delayed California’s season. 

In 2022, when there was a gap between the smaller California and Northwest crops, the price per pound held around $4.50 for 10-row cherries in late June, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture data by Oregon State University economist Tim Delbridge. In 2023, in contrast, the glut of California cherries forced shippers to drop prices in June to below $2.00 per pound, and that’s the price at which Northwest fruit entered the market

As for the overlap with California, Gutzwiler believes the Northwest cherry industry may have to adapt as both regions try to extend their seasons.

“California is doing the same thing as us, but in reverse. The fact is that we are going to have these crossings on a regular basis,” he said.

Read the full article at Good Fruit Growers

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