Cherries are Livin' in the Fast Lane
Posted on Wed, 05/26/2010 - 00:38Submitted by Your Produce Man on Wed, 05/26/2010 - 00:38
There is almost nothing more sad than seeing rain on a ripening Bing Cherry this time of year in the Cherry Orchards of the San Joaquin Valley. Bing Cherries live in the fast lane. Everything about the Bing Cherry is fast. From blossom to picking is 60 days. That's fast. And in the last 10 days, rain could ruin the entire crop, fast, overnight. Growing Bing Cherries in California proves that the California farmer is not only the bravest farmer in the world, but also the biggest gambler in the world. Over the past two weeks, Cherry Orchards have been dancing around cool temperatures and sprinkles of rain here and there. But now, we are getting more than just "trace" amounts of rain in the Valley. The hundreds of helocopters hovering above the orchards, trying despearately to keep the fruit dry, may have just run out of dance moves. Rain on a ripening Bing Cherry causes the fruit split. There is so much sugar content in the ripening berry, the sugar just draws the moisture. There is only so much room in that tiny water balloon we call a Bing Cherry. Too much, it bursts, In this case, it splits. If the splitting becomes too bad in the orchards, so growers may decide to simply abandon that crop for this year. With too many splits, it become just too costly to sort and pack the crop. At the end of the season, the farmer would just owe way too much money to the packer and shipper. It wouldn't even be worth picking the crop. Sad too, because the 2010 Bing Cherry crop was expected to be at record levels. After the rains, we will see the full extent of the damage. If we lose a third of the crop, we'll be lucky. Some growers could lose more. The Bing Cherry starts the Summer stonefruit season off with a bang. This year, the season may just barely slumber in. These farmers, you have to give it to them. They fight the environment, regulations, they fight the markets, labor, equipment, land costs, they fight for water, but in the end, it really comes down to whether Mother Nature throws a cold and wet blanket on their dreams.