Cherry growers hoping late Spring rain will stay away

While rain is good for the drought, too much rain is not good for cherry farmer.

For 35 years, Ken Vogel has grown cherries on his nine acre orchard in Linden.

“Cherries are a valuable crop. If you can hit cherries right and have a good crop and a good price the yield is greater than walnuts and other crops," Vogel said.

The series of winter storms set back pollination, and his crop, a week.That is not good when getting to market early is key.

But what’s more worrisome is a spring storm and rain, which could spell disaster in just a single day because harvest time is just a few days away.

“Rain water is soft. It will be absorbed into the cherries. If it gets hot then after that and there is no wind or over clouds then they could pop. They burst and have cracks and are unmarketable," Vogel said.

Last year the rain did come and at the wrong time causing significant damage to San Joaquin County’s coveted cherry crop.

“A good year when we get three quarters of the crop through, that’s a good year most of the time," said Bruce Blodgett, executive director for the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation.

Blodgett says right now is critical.

“One good storm to come through. And you want to be in that position where you’re the area the rain misses," Blodgett said.

San Joaquin County, the center of California cherry growing, was worth a whopping $181 million dollars in 2015, according to the San Joaquin County Ag Commissioner's office.

Last year’s numbers are not available.

In a nutshell, no rain equals the cherry on top of a good harvest.

 “I’m a farmer so I have to be optimistic. And I’m a cherry farmer so I have to be overly optimistic," Vogel said.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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