Rain spells big trouble for the cherry crop, especially in San Joaquin County, which is the biggest producer in the state.
The harvest is underway, but the rain may dampen expectations. Rain can seep into the cherries at the stem and cause the fruit to split as the cherry swells, making the fruit unmarketable.
Tom Gotelli with OG Packing in Stockton says a lot depends on how cool the weather is, how ripe the cherries are, and the variety, such as Bing, Tulare, or Ranier cherries.
“Pretty early still to tell, overcast and it’s cool,” Gotelli said. “There’s a little bit of a breeze so that’s good to help out, but you know, it’s cherry season and we get rain during cherries and you just have to keep swinging away.”
Gotelli says a month ago experts were predicting a record crop — up to 10 million boxes statewide.
“It’s a real good marketable crop, good size crop, and big crop,” he said. “Excellent size, and so we’re just hoping we can survive these rains to get it off the tree, and hopefully get it to the buyers and consumers.”
Gotelli says a sudden jump in temperature after the rains would result in more damage to the orchards, but he’s hoping the crop can weather both the rains and a return to warmer conditions.
The harvest is expected to go through mid-June.