Late-season rain could threaten Bay Area cherry crop

Bay Area

MORGAN HILL (KRON) — The late season rain has arrived just as cherry season begins and cherries dont like rain.

Because of this, the Bay Area cherry crop could get considerably damaged, depending on how much more rain is headed our way.

Threatening skies loom overhead at Andy’s Orchard in Morgan Hill.

Rain puddles beneath the cherry trees.

A ripening cherry is like a sponge, says longtime orchardist Andy Mariani.

“And it will keep taking in water until it can’t anymore and the membrane in the skin cracks and results in cracked cherries,” Mariani said.

A cracked cherry is a lost cherry and must be culled from the harvest.

It cannot be packed or shipped.

“It’ll soften the cherries and it can cause mold and they can crack after they arrive at their destination,” he said.

The ripest fruit is most vulnerable to moisture.

Mariani is fortunate in that his cherries tend to ripen later.

“We have a lot of fruit that hasn’t cracked yet and I think the cracking is more severe over in the Central Valley where they have already started picking,” Mariani said.

Some cherry varieties are more resistant to cracking, but the popular bing cherries, have been hardest early on in what was shaping up to be a rare, bumper crop.

“This is the second crop in six years but it could be destroyed, so we’ve had one good crop out of six years,” he said.

Mariani says the larger growers and the export market will be hit hardest but there should be plenty of local fruit available while it lasts.

Prices are stable for now but that could change.

He says fewer than 5 percent of his crop is cracked but that too could change.

“The worst is still predicted so we’ll have to wait and see what happens when the rain is done,” Mariani said.

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