Cherries hurt by cold temperatures

Cold temperatures that dipped below freezing a week and a half ago have done a fair share of cherry bud damage in the region.

According to area growers, the degree of damage varies.

Sadelman Fruit, LLC, based out of Zillah, lost all 30 acres at its Royal City Ranch, according to Orchard Manager Alan Weaver.

In Grandview and north of Outlook, damages to buds vary from 25 percent to 75 percent.

Don Olmstead, who farms Rainiers, Bings and Vans in Grandview, said there was actually one frost before last week's that did some damage. "But we didn't notice it until two days before (this last one)," he said.

Olmstead said that temperatures one day last week in Grandview ranged between 20-27. "With the real warm temperatures we had before that, it weakens the buds. The charts we use kind of go out the window," said Olmstead.

He said that the cold can pull the moisture out of the bud, allowing it to freeze.

For Olmstead, there are some parts of his orchard that are badly damaged. "There's 25 percent good in some parts and 75 percent good in others."

Despite that, he said, "It still could be OK for marketing, but it leaves less room for anything else going that way."

John Heffron, who grows Sweethearts and Rainiers north of Outlook, echoed the same sentiment.

"The Sweethearts got hit pretty hard (last week) but the Rainiers are still doing OK. There is some damage," Heffron said. "But if everything went perfect from now on out, there'd be a crop."

In his block of Sweethearts, there's about 75 percent damage. "But there's always extra anyway, a lot of flowers. It just leaves less margin for error."

Zillah grower Brad Delp, who owns Delp Orchards, said that in one low-lying area in his orchard, damage is estimated between 30 to 40 percent spread over an acre and a half. "Just the buds that were further advanced got hurt," Delp said. "I'm very fortunate." Delp's overall damage is about 15 to 20 percent.

Sunnyside area grower Phil Luther said, "It was a cold, dry spell that just hammered the heck out of them." Luther said his damage is between 40 and 60 percent.

"Once they bloom, we can take a good look at the pistols and find out more about the extent of the damage," he said.

Of the cold, he said, "To have it hit the whole valley like that, nobody expected it."


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