Posted: Thursday, May 03, 2012 11:00 AM
Arvin area sees dramatic drop in cherry production
By DAN WHEAT
California's cherry harvest is forecast at a normal 8.1 million boxes -- but early harvest in Bakersfield and Arvin is light.
Meanwhile, the state's pear crop, still a good two months from start of harvest, looks late and light.
Cherries in Bakersfield and Arvin are running a third to 25 percent of their production last year but stronger expectations for Fresno, Stockton and Marysville will keep the overall number up, said Chris Zanobini, executive director of the California Cherry Advisory Board in Sacramento.
"The Arvin area is really light. I don't know if we will be picking it or not," said Tom Gotelli, plant manager of O-G Packing in Stockton.
"There might be a ranch here or there to pick but not very much. We have nice crops in Fresno and Stockton, but the industry has lost a lot of tonnage out of Arvin," he said.
The culprit is a dry winter and timing of sprays to control bloom, Zanobini said.
Arvin and Bakersfield produced about 4 million, 36-pound boxes last year but this year will be more like 1 million to 1.5 million boxes, he said.
Picking started April 25. Volume will be "spotty" the next couple of weeks, Zanobini said.
Fresno will start picking about mid-May, Stockton at the end of May and then areas up to Marysville, he said. Most of the volume will be in the first three weeks of June, he said.
Brooks, Tulare and Coral are dominant varieties in the south while Bing is bigger in Lodi and Stockton, Gotelli said.
California pears are just finishing bloom in the north and will be late and lighter than last year, said Zanobini, who also heads the California Pear Advisory Board.
However, the Bosc pear crop likely will be heavy again, he said. Crop size will be estimated the first week of June after the May fruit drop, he said. Last year, California produced 4.3 million, 36-pound boxes of pears with 3.3 million of that being Bartlett, he said. About 10,000 boxes worth was not picked because of over supply, he said.
Jim Culbertson, a Sacramento pear grower and former executive manager of the Cherry Advisory Board, said he probably lost his entire 55-acre pear crop to hail April 12.