Michigan tart cherry production forecast is 264 million pounds, 60 percent larger than the 2017 June cherry production forecast, according to the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), Great Lakes Regional Office.
Despite reports of delayed bud burst due to cooler-than-normal April temperatures, growers are optimistic about the tart cherry crop. High temperatures in May promoted a quick bloom period, and no major damage has been reported thus far from weather, insects, or disease.
With the news of a larger-than-expected crop comes the realization that, because of trade issues surrounding cherries and other commodities, more fruit is not necessarily a good thing.
“Michigan is home to 75 percent of the nation’s cherry farmers, and this year we’re looking at a good-sized crop,” said Kevin Robson, Horticulture and Industry Relations Specialist with Michigan Farm Bureau. “The fact that we dodged a frost event this year, and have a good quality and sized crop out in the orchards at the moment still leaves growers less than optimistic for the 2018 marketing season.
“The global trading markets for agriculture products have been less than beneficial for our growers when compared to other years. The cherry industry is not alone. Others have been involved in the countless trade agreements between the U.S. and other countries. However, cherries seem to be taking it on the chin the hardest.”
Michigan sweet cherry production is forecast is 23,900 tons. This would be a 27 percent increase from the 2017 June cherry production forecast. Growers throughout the state are generally optimistic about this year’s sweet cherry crop, despite the slower development due to cooler April temperatures.
United States tart cherry production is forecast at 353 million pounds, up 48 percent from the 2017 production. Utah growers reported an above- average crop this year. Warmer weather conditions were favorable for an early bloom.
New York weather conditions were also favorable, and the crop was off to a good start. Growers reported a good crop with an average bloom. Washington growers reported moderate spring temperatures and moisture and expected harvest to begin later than normal.
Wisconsin snow storms and cool temperatures lead to a delay in the crop this year. Growers reported they expected a good crop, although there was some concern about potential damage from invasive flies.
United States sweet cherry production is forecast at 319,900 tons, down 26 percent from 2017. In Washington and Oregon, cool and wet weather and an extended bloom hampered pollination and led to a lighter fruit set of early varieties.
Growers were concerned about the extent of fruit drop in early varieties through harvest. California growers reported a warm winter across the State and damaging frost over several days in late February, followed by heavy rains in March that impacted much of the crop.
“Our cherry growers in Michigan are some of the hardest working, diligent, relentlessly optimistic, honest farmers I know,” said Robson. “There is no doubt it’s a struggle in their industry right now, but if you talk to them, they still cling and hold on to hope that relief’s on the horizon, leading to the opening up of markets for our first handlers to sell their inventory, making way for the 2018 crop.”