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Northwest Cherries estimates nearly 22 million boxes in 2017

Northwest Cherries’ field estimate team has projected that this year’s crop will hit nearly 21.8 million 20-pound equivalent boxes.

“Over a series of four rounds of projections during the fruit’s early development, this 22-person estimation team looks at the volume dynamics across all Northwest growing districts, with each member submitting data specific to their active growing districts," Northwest Cherries said in its cover document. "The data is built into an estimation model that uses field-team assessments, historical data, degree days, crop expansion and average processing tonnage to formulate an estimate.” Cherries

It qualified the estimate by further saying, “As always, it is important to note that this round one estimate has the most potential for variance from the actual size of the crop; not all of our orchards are far enough along to determine what will actually stay on the tree until harvest.”

Nonetheless, the early May estimate came in ahead of last year’s 20.9-million box crop and includes what Northwest Cherries called “a strong Rainier crop exceeding the nearly identical 1.7 million (15-pound) box crops of 2015 and 2016.” That led the organization to say it is “anticipating a greater ability to maintain extended promotions this year," and that it is “shaping up to be a year for strong Rainier exposure.”

The crop got off to a late start after a cold spring, and Northwest Cherries said, “We began bloom nearly as late as we ever have, but thankfully consistent warm weather allowed for a great bloom across all regions. Due to this warming, some of the earliest growers expect to begin harvest during the second week of June.”

Moreover, round one shows volume could extend through August.

“A unique feature of this crop projection is the significant acceleration expected once we begin to harvest the Bing variety,” the report said, explaining that last year many of the Bing orchards did not set a crop.

“The trees are well-rested and set well to provide a large crop of superior fruit this year,” it continued.

“Successful retailer will plan to make the best use of this strong start to the season. With the great spread between districts, this will also be a season full of late season promotion opportunities.”