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San Joaquin County growers hoping for a 'cherry' harvest amid coronavirus concerns

The San Joaquin County cherry harvest is two weeks away. Last year rain destroyed much of the crop, and this year, the coronavirus is causing some concerns.

LINDEN, Calif. — Last year, Ken Vogel's twelve-plus acres of Coral and Bing cherries in Linden were destroyed by a series of late spring storms.

He says the cherry crop appears lighter this year, but there are coronavirus impacts looming for his orchards and the other 20,000 acres of cherries in San Joaquin County.

With the cherry picking season just two weeks away, there are several concerns for cherry growers. 

One of them is whether there'll be enough labor to pick the fruit.

"Some of the farm workers in general that pick cherries will be more apprehensive. I think, we're all a bit more apprehensive with this virus going around," said Vogel.

While Vogel says the packing house he uses claims to have enough labor for the season, it still remains to be seen. 

Adding to labor concerns, there is a need for Personal Protective Equipment that is in short supply everywhere.

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"Majority of that is going to our first responders and medical folks, which it should, but also there's a need within agriculture," said San Joaquin County Agriculture Commissioner Tim Pelican.

Even if the fruit gets picked, there are still concerns about exporting that fruit to countries that buy California cherries. 

"A lot of those take place in Europe and Asia on commercial flights, which obviously aren't happening right now," Pelican added.

As for the weather that decimated the 2019 cherry crop, growers are simply hoping that a repeat doesn't happen this year.

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California cherry growers bracing for disaster as rainy weather moves in

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