The Great Cherry Disaster of 2011

I am not generally an alarmist. But the news is terrible, and I don’t understand why this worst possible news has also gotten almost no press. The extremely wet weather in the cherry growing regions; from California, the upper Mid West, to the East Coast; has delayed and damaged this year’s cherry crop. So instead of sale prices as low as $1/lb, so far this year the few cherries I’ve seen are between $5 and $7/lb. In my household, the news doesn’t get any worse than that. From California the news is bad; first the rain delayed them, then heavy rains at the worst possible moment meant the loss of 30% of the sweet cherry crop. Here on the East Coast, our next door neighbor’s cherries were also washed out; what little fruit they had was flavorless. I can never remember a year when the cherry news has been so bleak.

It could be worse; they cost nearly US$100/kg during my trip to France,

However,  there is one final hope. After several week of delay, Washington State is just beginning their annual harvest.  Though pent up global demand will certainly keep prices high, there is still a slim chance of being able to make our annual, homemade maraschino cherries. The typical Washington State maturity schedule is here; but add about 2 weeks this year.  Last year, I was vacationing in Central America during peak California cherry season, so I made them with Washington State Cherries. They turned out fine, just a little pricier. Keep your fingers crossed for our last hope.

Update July 7th: The first of the Northwestern Cherries go on sale for $2/lb starting tomorrow. My family will be thrilled. Looks like we will be making our annual maraschino cherries after all.

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