Recent rains are not damaging the state’s cherry crop, largely because winds are blowing the water off the soft fruit before it is absorbed.
When rain falls on the skin of ripe cherries, it is drawn in by osmosis. The skin can’t expand fast enough to hold the engorged pulp and splits. That makes the fruit worthless.
“The wind that’s coming along with the rain has been saving our bacon,” said Jim McBride, who manages View Orchards in Finley. He plans to begin harvest Wednesday.
“Almost every rainstorm has been pushed by wind. It dries off our cherries,” McBride said.
Sweet cherries are Washington’s 10th most valuable crop, earning farmers about $106 million in 1995.
Some farmers have hired helicopters to blow the water off cherries.
“We’ve been extremely busy all over the basin,” said Jim Arbaugh, owner of Northwest Rotors Inc. of Kennewick.