YAKIMA, Wash. — The f.o.b. market for Washington cherry can vary widely, with shipping point prices as high as $60 per carton to begin the season.

More typically, f.o.b. prices will begin the season in the $38-42 per carton range for 10.5 row and larger fruit and then come off from there, said Steve Clement, chief operating officer and general manager for Sage Fruit Co.

The market typically settles in at narrow range — in 2012 at close to $25 per carton — when peak volume arrives.

Clement said the packing and sales charges for cherries is fixed, though it may cost more to pack cherries when the price is lower compared to a higher market.

It typically costs growers 25 cents to 30 cents per pound just to pick the cherries, Clement said.

Last year, the freezer market for sweet cherries was about 45 cents per pound, so growers weighed fresh market and processing returns based on real-time fresh markets, he said.

Keith Mathews, chief executive officer of FirstFruits Marketing of Washington LLC, said he believes 2013 will be a fairly good marketing year for cherries.

Shippers have to command well above $20 per carton on average just to cover costs, and Mathews said that can be accomplished this year.