(May 2) Washington’s low temperatures delayed cherry blossoms by about 10 days, which will likely postpone harvests by a week to two weeks, shippers said.

They expect to begin shipping chelans, their earliest variety, in early June, followed by bings about two days to a week later.

“Now the trees look outstanding, and they had a really heavy bloom,” said Eric Patrick, marketing director for produce distributor Grant J. Hunt Co., Oakland, Calif. “The estimates are for quite a few cherries, so we’ll see how many actually set.”

The cool weather should not have affected volumes, and more recent weather has been good for pollination, said Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee.

“We had good weather after blooming and the bees got out,” he said.

California cherries also were expected to be two weeks late, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture had not reported f.o.b.s for this year as of April 24.

Last year, cool weather in Washington’s Yakima Valley and Wenatchee district slowed production. As of June 13, the USDA reported prices for 20-pound cartons of 10-row size and larger bings were $50-50.50.

LARGE & HEALTHY

This season’s crop should be large and healthy this year, Pepperl said. He said he expects a similar market share to previous years.

The firm expected to ship 2.4 million cartons of Northwest cherries last year.

Pepperl said Stemilt’s chelans will likely be ready about June 7-10, about a week to 12 days late.

Stemilt has late orchards that are coming into production and will increase supplies in late July, Pepperl said.

Patrick said the Hunt Co. also is running about a week to two weeks late, with the first cherries expected to be ready about June 12-16.

He said he expects the company to have a larger volume than last year with about 800,000 to 900,000 boxes of 20-pound equivalents being shipped from the Northwest region.

Suzanne Wolter, marketing director for Rainier Fruit Co., Selah, Wash., said she expected the company’s first harvest about June 10-12.

Rainier expects to ship about 2 million cases of cherries this year, Wolter said, as compared to last year’s 1.4 million.

Mike Isola, salesman for Grower Direct Marketing LLC, Stockton, Calif., said trees in Washington looked good and not overloaded.