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Weather-damaged cherry harvest ends with a bang

The 2013 Yakima Valley cherry harvest has wrapped up, and despite the unpredictable weather, the season ended with growers shipping 400,000 boxes of cherries a day during the past few weeks, said B.J. Thurlby of Northwest Cherry Growers. "The season was not nearly as good as last year, but most of that can be blamed on the crazy weather we experienced this year," he said. Even with threats of a nasty weather front bringing more rain to the area coupled with hail and gusty winds, Thurlby feels the season ended on a less stressful note. Thankfully, the weather forecasts never materialized and the Lower Valley enjoyed 16 rain free days. But for some, it was too little, too late. The Lower Valley season is done, said Thurlby. "The cherry season is now shifting towards the Okanogan Valley and the Canadian border," he explained. The weather was no friend to cherry growers this year. "The bloom season was short and pollination was spotty, because it was such a cold spring," said Thurlby. Then the rain came in late June and early July, making the season even more challenging, he said. "Some farmers made the decision to not pick their crop because their crops had suffered too much damage. Still, Thurlby noted there are a few cherry harvests just beginning in some of the higher elevation areas of the state. Grant County will be harvesting until late August. "We won't know the full effect of the weather damage until the first of September," Thurlby said. "But I don't anticipate a good report."

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