2016 was a bad year for California cherries, but industry leaders say it was actually the best season in the last several years. Late spring rains and low chilling hours are the reasons for the unfortunate streak. The California Cherry Board hopes the colder temperatures will make this year a success.
The last several seasons have been tough on California cherries. Late spring rains hurt the crop last year, dropping the the state total to 60,000 tons. California Cherry Board Executive Chris Zanobini said 2016 was actually the best year of the last three. “We really haven’t had a good cherry year since 2012,” he said.
It’s not just the late rains that have hurt the crop in that time span. Zanobini said two factors have combined to make unfavorable cherry-growing seasons. “One has been chill hours with the warm winters,” he said. “The other has been those periodical rains during the seasons that have been somewhat disastrous.”
So far this winter, California has seen an increase in cold weather and precipitation. The state’s cherry industry hopes this can help break a streak of bad seasons. “The jury is still out on chill hours. We will have to see what the next month or so brings,” Zanobini said. “Based on everything I have read, it seems like we kind of have the best of both worlds right now with an El Niño and a La Niña put together. We’re optimistic we are going to have a good cherry season.”