California cherries primed for Memorial DayCalifornia cherries should be available in promotable volumes for Memorial Day, but bing volumes will be substantially lower than last year.

The Flavor Tree Co. LLC, Hanford, Calif., sales arm of Warmerdam Packing LLC, began picking the week of April 22, earlier than expected, said Maurice Cameron, president and global sales manager.

“It’s been very warm and sunny in the San Joaquin Valley, a lot warmer than expected, and it’s bumping up harvest,” Cameron said.

The Flavor Tree, which front-loads its cherry deal more than other California shippers, expects to be shipping volume by the week of May 6, Cameron said.

Peak volumes should last through about May 25, which sets up perfectly for Memorial Day promotions, he said.

“At this point, the stars are aligning,” he said. “Retailers are setting promotions and looking at prices that should be attractive and move a lot of cherries. That’s good.”

On April 30, 16-pound cartons of film bags of 12-row and larger California cherries were selling for $55 on the Los Angeles terminal market. No prices are available from last year at the same time.

Linden, Calif.-based Primavera Marketing Inc. started harvesting the week of April 29, said Rich Sambado, sales manager.

The company’s brooks crop is heavy but its tulare deal is expected to very light, Sambado said. The southern region brooks and tulare deals will likely peak May 16-21, he said.

Primavera expects to begin shipping bings about May 20, with peak volumes likely from about May 25 to June 7. The bing crop also will be light, up to 30% smaller than last year, due in large part to an alternate-bearing cycle, Sambado said.

“There were heavy sets last year.”

Morada Produce Co, Linden, Calif., expects to ship about 65% of its cherries in May, up from 35% to 50% in a typical year, said Larelle Miller, saleswoman.

That’s good from a marketing standpoint, as marketers can take advantage of Memorial Day pull, she said.

Morada expected brooks to begin peaking about May 11, with the tulare peak to follow about four days later, Miller said. Bings should begin in mid-May, with a peak on overall California volumes lasting until about June 1 before the deal winds down to a mid-June finish, she said.

California bing volumes could be off 50% this year, Miller said.

Brooks sizing was challenged at the end of April by heat, Sambado said, but sugar levels were very high. Sizing and quality on tulares and bings should both be outstanding, he said.

Cameron reported good sizing at the beginning of the deal.

“we’re really surprised at how nice the size has been at this juncture.”

Quality also has been outstanding, with brix levels in the 16-19 range on most fruit, Cameron said.

At the end of April The Flavor Tree was marketing brooks and a proprietary Sequoia variety, Cameron said. Tulares, yosemites, corals and other varieties were expected to following beginning the week of May 6.

The company should begin seeing bings in volume by the end of May, Cameron said.