Smaller cherry crop means higher prices, small window to buy

The Fresno BeeMay 12, 2014 

If you are a fan of locally grown cherries, don't wait too long to buy. This year's season will be short and sweet.

Dry winter weather and a shortage of cold nights has resulted in fewer cherries for sale, including the Brooks and Tulare varieties. And if that isn't enough, expect to pay about $1 more.

Several farmers say they will have local cherries for only about one to two more weeks.

The abrupt season has spurred farmers market shoppers to gobble up their beloved cherries.

"I just love the beauty, the texture, the tartness and the sweetness of cherries," says Jill Fisher, a customer at the Vineyard Farmers Market at Blackstone and Shaw avenues. "I plan to buy as many as I can, put them in a bowl and sit down and eat them."

Robbie Erickson, of Erickson Farms, says the Valley's cherry season can be as long as six weeks, but this year that likely will be cut to about three weeks because of the poor growing weather.

"And it isn't just us, this is a problem from north to south," Erickson says.

At the Kern Street Farmers Market in downtown Fresno, shopper Darla White eagerly waits for cherry season every year. When she found out the crop will be light, she decided to stock up.

"I am getting cherries while the getting is good," White says. "I love the sweet, tart taste and the fact that they are fresh and locally grown."

White bought several pounds from Hamada Farms, a longtime Valley cherry grower.

Farmer Yuk Hamada says the poor weather hurt some varieties more than others. He is nearly done picking his Brooks cherries, but his crop of the yellow and red-blushed Rainiers look much better. The sweet-tasting Rainiers will be harvested in about a week.

"It really is a nice looking crop this year," Hamada says.

Vickie Erickson of Harry's Cherries, an Easton fruit stand at Elm and American avenues, says they will be open for about one more week, or until the fruit lasts. The stand is open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Like Hamada Farms, Erickson says the Rainier cherries are looking promising.

"The Rainiers are the best we have seen in a long time," Erickson says.

Also selling cherries is Simonian Farms at Clovis and Jensen avenues. The family-run stand sells a variety of fruit, including cherries.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6327, or @FresnoBeeBob on Twitter.

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