Berries and Cherries Baking in Northwest

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the… whole U.S.?

Hot drought conditions have been dominating row crop headlines. But specialty crops are also getting hot, hot, hot while tens of thousands of workers are harvesting as much as 10 million pounds of fruit a day in the Northwest.

Record heat in the Northwest is throwing shade on berry and cherry harvests. This week, cherry farmers started harvesting at night to avoid the scorching 100-plus-degree weather. Farmers are using sprinklers and netting to reduce heat damage.

Cherries on the outer edges could see damage, but other than that, farmers are predicting the heat will have little impact on their crop.

Put it in perspective: Last year’s cherry crop reached 19.8 million cartons, and the Northwest Cherry Growers are projecting a 17% increase to 22.4 million 20-pound cartons. Cherry harvest is bringing the heat of its own.

Raspberries, on the other hand, are having a much more difficult time with the heat wave. Normally produced in cooler coastal areas where heat waves arrive after berry harvest, berry crops can face quality issues in the heat. Growers say they’ve already seen damages to their raspberry crop; meanwhile, blueberries seem to be sweating it out okay.

Apple harvest is still a few weeks away, but concerns for sunburnt, unmarketable apples are growing as well.

Time will tell how baked the Northwest fruit will get.