Looking to a June 1 start for picking, with volume hitting June 5, Starr Ranch Growers could have upward of three million boxes of cherries this year, according to Brent Shammo, national marketing representative for the Wenatchee, WA-based company.
Shammo said in early May the growing season had been going well, with the bloom looking great and the crop about a week earlier this year.
“We have had some frost damage in a few varieties that will lead to a smaller harvest than the previous few years, but the size and quality should be excellent,” Shammo said. He added the season will kick off with the early varieties of Chelan, Coral and Tieton and then progress into Bings. As the season progresses, Skeenas, Sweethearts and other later varieties will come on.
“We should have a good amount of Rainier cherries this year starting around June 10,” Shammo added.
He said the increase in volume is attributable to the addition of Stadelman Fruit in Yakima during the past year.
“This grows our program to more than three million boxes of cherries this year and allows us to have the ability to load cherries in both Yakima and Wenatchee,” he said.
In addition to increasing overall volume, Starr Ranch Growers is also upping its organic game.
“We are in the process of expanding our organic offerings,” Shammo said. “This year we will have more than 300,000 boxes of organic red cherries to offer, but with acreage transitioning, we will be growing that quickly.”
Shammo said that despite the societal changes brought about by COVID-19, “Customers and retailers seem to be very excited about cherries this year. With all of the stay-at-home orders in place, people are looking to add a little variety into their home life, and we feel like cherries will be that difference this year.
“We also have a big opportunity for the Fourth of July this year,” he continued. “With it being on the weekend and hitting right at peak production, we will be able to bring a lot of smiles to households across the U.S.”
The company is continuing to use its new branded Starr Ranch boxes and bags that were rolled out in 2019 during cherry harvest. “Customers and retailers love the new look and country appeal,” he said. “We’ve got vastly increased clamshell capacity with Stadelman on board and continue to grow our top seal availability.”