July 11, 2009

Washington state has record cherry crop

Washington agriculture officials say the state's cherry crop is far from the pits -- in fact, it's a record haul thanks to a mild spring and hot summer.

The cherry crop is twice the size of last year's harvest, and is so big it's overwhelming processing plants, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported Saturday.

What we've seen in the last couple of days is that there is so much fruit in the orchards that our warehouses just aren't keeping up, Washington State Fruit Commission President B.J. Thurlby told the newspaper. I haven't talked to anyone in the industry who has seen it like this before.

Bottlenecks are developing at the plants, where workers are being added and existing employees are racking up overtime, Thurlby said, noting reports of shortages in packaging materials.

Officials told the Herald-Republic they expect the previous cherry harvest record of 14.9 million boxes in 2007 to be smashed with this year's roughly 20 million-box production.