2012 Cherry Season Still Haunts

The late 2014 bloom.

John Zettel opened the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Cherry Growers (WCG) at The Log Den in Egg Harbor on June 30 with the answer to the burning question that everyone has been asking – When are the cherries going to be ripe?

“Generally, mid-July to mid-August,” Zettel said is the answer he has been giving to the oft-asked question. He suggested people check out the WCG Facebook page for more specific details as the season progresses.

Tim Siehr of the Door County Farm Service Agency reported on updates to the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) through the recently passed farm bill. It was a subject of great interest to the cherry growers, many of whom suffered tree loss during the hard winter. The revised TAP allows orchardists who suffered tree loss due to weather to enter claims dating back to Oct. 1, 2011.

Still reeling from the crop failure of 2012, tart cherry growers are hoping 2014 turns out to be a good year. Jim Seaquist of Seaquist Orchards reported on the anticipated 2014 cherry crop.

“It was extremely painful,” Seaquist said of 2012

He said local estimates put the Door County cherry crop at 9½ million pounds, while the USDA’s estimate is 11 million pounds. The crop was 1.7 million pounds that devastating year of 2012, and 12.4 million pounds in 2013 (all USDA figures).

Nationally, the crop estimate for 2014 is 264.4 million pounds, down from 2013’s 293.7 million pounds, but way up from 2012’s 85.1 million pounds.

Michigan, the leading producer of cherries, expects to be down 10 percent from 2013 production, largely because of colder than normal weather and freezing damage. Michigan expects to harvest 181.5 million pounds.

New York and Pennsylvania growers were in the same boat as Wisconsin and Michigan growers, with some winter damage and cold temperatures leading to expected crops of 6 million pounds in New York (half of the 2013 production) and less than a million pounds in Pennsylvania (2013 production was 2.2 million pounds).

Only Utah and Washington expect to have larger crops than 2013, with Utah expecting 36 million pounds (it had 27.5 million in 2013) and 26 million pounds in Washington (17.9 million in 2013).