Skip to main content

- Advertisement -

Late-season cherries key to Superfresh Growers optimism for 2024

By
Keith Loria

Superfresh Growers historically accounts for more than 15 percent of the Northwest Cherry volume.

“With the addition of our third packing line in 2023, we have been able to increase this share and continue growing our total volume,” said Catherine Gipe-Stewart, communications manager for the Yakima, WA-based company. “Although cherries are only in season for three intense months, they represent a significant portion of our business. Despite being one of the last truly seasonal fruits, they achieve sales rankings comparable to year-round produce items like lemons and limes.”

super freshThe 2023 season will be remembered as one of the most challenging for Pacific Coast growers in years. The late and abundant California crop lingered in the market until the last week of July, flooding the market during the Fourth of July holiday, with more than 50 percent of retail shelf space dedicated to California cherries.

The Superfresh Growers’ 2024 crop is projected to be up 35 percent from last year based on early estimates.

“This year, we anticipate beginning the harvest in the first week of June, with full production by June 10,” Gipe-Stewart said. “The crop load on our early sites is moderate due to cool weather during pollination, which is actually beneficial as it will result in larger fruit, making for a smooth transition from the California crop in early June.”

Most importantly, the harvest districts are expected to be much more spread out compared to last season’s condensed schedule, which should benefit both customers and growers by ensuring an orderly harvest and optimal fruit quality, with a consistent packing flow projected to last 85-90 days. 

“The industry is looking to have great quality in the 2024 crop, which should boost both advertising and repeat purchases,” Gipe-Stewart said. “After evaluating the fruit post-bloom, cherry growers have determined that the Northwest will have an ‘average’ crop, with an expected harvest between 170,000 and 180,000 tons. Fortunately, no district is over-set, and average yields should range from 5 to 8 tons per acre, except in areas hit by the January freeze.”

Superfresh Growers has orchards throughout Oregon, Washington and Montana, so despite a significant freeze this year causing substantial crop loss of 70 percent or more in many northern orchards, its late-season orchards in La Grande, OR, and the Yakima Valley experienced minimal frost damage.

Therefore, the company expects to have fruit through August with its late-season cherries, which were not impacted by the freeze, unlike many other farms in northern high-elevation growing districts.

“For the past two years, Superfresh Growers has led with the largest and latest Northwest cherry season, and we expect to continue this trend this year,” Gipe-Stewart said.

Success in the cherry business, Gipe-Stewart noted, comes from long-term planning and strategic partnerships. This is especially true with organic cherries.

“For retailers interested in organic cherries, it’s best to collaborate with us or your growing partner in advance,” she said. “Organics only make up 3 percent of the Northwest Cherry crop, and much of it is pre-sold well before the season starts.”

Superfresh Growers sells cherries throughout the U.S., North America and across the globe, specializing in logistics, sales and in-house marketing to provide the best services for its customers.

“We are eager for another year as the leading grower and shipper of Pacific Northwest cherries,” Gipe-Stewart said. “Thanks to our newest cherry line added to our portfolio in 2023, we have the capacity to produce 30 percent more cherries than in previous years. Last year, this expedited the journey from orchard to packing line, and ultimately to retailers, enhancing the final quality for the end consumer.”

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

Tagged in:

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -