S.J. cherry crop shows 51% loss after rainy year

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Wes Bow­ers NEWS-SENTINEL STAFF WRITER

The 2019 cherry crop suf­fered one of the largest losses in re­cent me­mory, stem­ming from the un­usual amount of rain­fall the re­gion ex­pe­ri­enced ear­lier this year, San Joaquin County’s agri­cul­tural com­mis­sioner said Wed­nes­day.

The rains ear­lier this year caused a 51 per­cent loss in the cherry har­vest val­ued at $61 mil­lion, Agri­cul­tural Com­mis­sioner Tim Pelican said.

“This is the worst (loss) I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2017 crop re­port, cherries were the fifth-ranked com­mod­ity in San Joaquin County, val­ued at a to­tal of $184.5 mil­lion. That was a huge in­crease from 2016, when the to­tal har­vest was val­ued at $58.5 mil­lion. The 2016 har­vest was also af­fected by heavy rains.

A crop’s value de­pends on the yield of units per acre of har­vest each year, Pelican said, and a nor­mal cherry yield is about 2 tons per acre of land.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2017 crop re­port, there was a 3.1-ton yield for each unit of the 19,900 acres of land har­vested for cherries. The to­tal ton­nage of cherries was 16,000, the re­port states.

In 2016, 19,700 acres of or­chard yielded 1.19 tons per unit for a to­tal of 23,600 tons of cherries, the re­port states.

But 2019 fell short. “This year wasn’t even quite one ton (per acre),” Pelican said.

The loss didn’t only af­fect grow­ers in the re­gion, Pelican said — it af­fected the pack­ing in­dus­try as well, as there was no fruit to box up and ship out.

“There was a lot of stuff that wasn’t use­ful,” he said. “When the crop is soft, or it’s split­ting, or the col­ors aren’t right, they just can’t pack it.”

Ac­cord­ing to www.gg­weather.com, Stockton saw 18.37 inches of rain be­tween July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019. Lodi saw 25.63 inches of rain be­tween Jan­uary and June of this year, ac­cord­ing to www.patrick­sweeney­dds.com.

Pelican said the com­ing year will now be a wait­ing game for grow­ers.

“We’re hop­ing for bet­ter weather this year,” he said.

The 2018 crop re­port of the county should be re­leased some­time this year. To view pre­vi­ous re­ports, visit www.sj­gov.org/depart­ment/ag­comm/crop_re­ports.

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