Thursday, July 24, 2014

Life’s not always a bowl of cherries

From page A3 | June 26, 2014 |


Isabella Rodriguez, daughter of Marc Rodriguez, who co-owns R & R Produce on Gaddini Road in Winters, samples the cherries for sale at the fruit stand. Because there were no local cherries to be found this year, R &R Produce had to bring cherries in from the Lodi and Linden areas. Margaret Burns/Courtesy photo

’Perfect storm’ of factors decimate local cherry crop

By Margaret Burns

WINTERS — Woody and Rebecca Fridae did not have a single cherry on their tree this year. Neither did Debra and Joe DeAngelo.

Worse yet, Stan Lester and Ed George, commercial growers, barely had any either.
“It has been a virtual wipe-out,” said Lester, owner of Lester Farms, headquartered on Holmes Lane west of Winters. “Although there was a brief cold snap in December of 2013, January of 2014 was warm and dry.

“Cherry trees require a certain number of ‘chilling hours’ with temperatures less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Whatever chilling hours they had was counteracted by above normal temperatures the rest of the time.
“The trees bloomed normally, the pollination by bees was fine, the fungicides were applied appropriately — we had close to perfect management. But the trees set fruit very poorly. During bloom, we had days of the dry, north wind we often experience here. That desiccates the pollen and shortens its useful life, which also harmed fruit set.”
George concurred.
“This is the worst year I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t be surprised if, between pest issues and drought conditions, growers consider pulling out their orchards.”
English colonists brought cherry trees to the United States in 1629. They were introduced later to California by Spanish missionaries. Cherry orchards have been well-established in the San Joaquin and Santa Clara Valleys since the 1800s, according to the California Cherry Board.
Almost all cherries grown in California are the sweet, directly edible variety, Prunus avium, while Michigan is a major grower of tart cherries (Prunus cerasus), which are canned and used in pies and baked and cooked goods. The two main cultivars in the markets in California are deep, mahogany red Bings and the lighter, gold-blushed Rainiers.

Central Valley growers have an advantage over the Oregon and Washington cherry growers in that California fruit is earlier to harvest and market.
Cherries are not a large crop in Yolo County, and do not appear on the top 20 crops list from the county’s Department of Agriculture. In Sacramento County, the number of harvested cherry acres more than doubled between 2006 and 2010. In 2010 there were 1,200 acres harvested with a yield of 1.5 tons per acre at a value of about $2,400 per acre.
“We try to get our produce from local growers, but this year a cherry tree that may have produced 20 or 30 pounds of fruit last year is yielding only two or three pounds of fruit,” said Marc Rodriguez, who co-owns R & R produce with Brent Knabke. “It’s not worthwhile to spray and harvest. I’ve had to get cherries from down south in Linden and Lodi, where there are larger operations, even though they have also been hurt badly this year.”
Chuck Ingels, farm adviser with UC Cooperative Extension in Sacramento County, summarized reasons for the poor cherry harvest.
“There were multiple reasons for the extremely poor fruit set this year. There were actually enough standard ‘chill hours’ this year. Chill hours measure the number of hours below 45 degrees from Nov. 1 through Feb. 15. But fruit trees are sensitive to warm winter days, which cancel out some of the chill received at night.
“There were other factors, too,” Ingels said. “Because of the low chill, some cherry varieties didn’t bloom at the right time, so in many cases there was insufficient bloom overlap between the main variety and the pollinator varieties. Also, the early December freeze coupled with warm days may have damaged some buds or affected their spring bloom.
“In my opinion, most importantly, cherries are very sensitive to high temperatures during bloom, which were as high as 80 degrees. This likely shortened the life span of the flowers. It was likely a perfect storm of many factors.”
Estimates from the California Cherry Board are that the southern San Joaquin Valley, which produced 2.8 million boxes of cherries last year, will have only one-third that number this year, although the quality is excellent.
We’ll all be paying more for our sweet cherries this season, and the Fridaes and DeAngelos are going to have to buy them, not pick them in the back yard.

McNaughton Newspapers


Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    USDA predicts record almond haul in California

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Teens lead the way in fight against cancer

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Diplomas all around for professor and sons

    By Dave Jones | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Consumption guidelines for Cache Creek fish updated

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A3

    Local singer/songwriter will perform Friday on KDRT

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Davis Flea hosts night market Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Free technology help offered to seniors

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Contestants sought for Yolo County Fair Queen contest

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Parents can learn all about IEPs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Museum sells market bags as fundraiser

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    City of Davis recruits for its advisory commissions

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Zip Book: Request it, read it, return it

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8



    Water trains through Davis

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Water storage must be a priority

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    The real problem isn’t conflict, it’s violent conflict management

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Act now to support middle school students

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Don’t tell me I can’t help him

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6



    UCD coach has navigated a Maze of experiences

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Lethargic and roster thin, Post 77 loses Area 1 opener

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Pence outscores Phillies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Quincy Amarikwa: years in the making

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Area sports briefs: Nelson earns All-Academic honors

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Youth roundup: Aftershock finishes second in tournament

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Majka makes winning look easy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery



    Name Droppers: Transportation fellowship goes to Aggie

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8



    ‘South Pacific’ storyline still making waves

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    ‘The Miracle Worker’ auditions set for WOH

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7







    Comics: Thursday, July 24, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8