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We will adapt and get the cherry crop to market in a timely manner

Overview of the beginning of the North America cherry season, by Kyle Persky of Rivermaid Trading Company, complemented by charts from Agronometrics.

Original published in on April 15, 2020

In just a few weeks, California will kick off North America’s cherry harvest. “We expect to start picking the last week of April and volume will continue to increase until it hits a peak around May 8,” says Kyle Persky with Rivermaid Trading Company. “The peak season will continue until the first week of June.”

Origins of cherries in the US market during the North America season

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

The state is expecting a smaller crop this year. “The industry estimate is for the crop to be just under 7 million boxes,” Persky mentioned. “The trees are taking a break from what could have been a huge crop last year, but rain got in the way.”

Volumes (in KG) of California cherries in the US market between 2017 and 2019

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Laborers travel US west coast

Although the crop may be smaller this year, workers are still needed to pick the fruit. What will the impact of the coronavirus and California’s ‘shelter in place’ be on the availability of labor? Several sources confirmed labor is not going to be an issue. “We have several hundreds of seasonal workers every year and many of them travel the US west coast to work,” one source said. Some crews have been pruning orchards up in Washington and are traveling to California to pick cherries. Another source mentioned that “California citrus is winding down and pickers will move into cherries, which is a much higher pay.” Many people who work California’s cherry orchards and sheds return every year and cherry growers don’t expect that to be much different this year. “On top of this, many people in the hospitality and foodservice industries are out of jobs currently, so we don’t foresee labor being an issue.”

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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