In a video from Fox 32, Old Mission Peninsula farmer Heatherlyn Johnson Reamer (full disclosure: my niece) discussed the cherry harvest and how things are going so far this season. In short, there’s a lot of cherries on the trees this year.
“We’ve got 2 million pounds of tart cherries out there right now,” said Reamer. “It’s usually 1.2 to 1.5.”
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Johnson Farms is wrapping up their light and dark sweet cherries, and starting on tarts. Reamer said they’re keeping an eye on the weather.
“We’ve got some hot weather coming in the middle of this week, which can also bring in some storms. We worry about that. And with as large as the tart cherry crop is this year, it could sustain damage with high winds.”
Ben LaCross of LaCross Farms in Leelanau County (and Michigan Farm Bureau’s District 9 Director), explained the logistics of a cherry “diversion.”
“The federal marketing order looks at how many cherries we can actually sell as an industry in the upcoming 12 months, and the marketing order tries to regulate what that demand is and forecast what the supply is,” said LaCross. “And any difference there is the diversion requirement. This year’s diversion requirement is 29 percent.”
Some farmers saw the diversion coming and have already dumped that amount on the ground or kept it for reserve. LaCross Farms had at least a half-million pounds of fruit damage in this month’s hail storm, which hit Leelanau County, but missed much of the Old Mission Peninsula (though some OMP farmers did sustain damage).
“That’s going to really make growers decisions on if they put fruit on the ground very challenging,” said LaCross.” Because that hail storm will really affect a lot of the crop quality.”
Reamer said Johnson Farms is moving forward with the harvest and hoping for the best. “We’re just trying to shake them off as fast as possible and get them shipped out of here,” she noted.