June 27, 2013 in City

Rains damage cherries

Associated Press
Associated Press photo

A helicopter blows rain from cherry trees to dry out the fruit in an orchard near Moxee, Wash., on Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

YAKIMA – Recent showers have been bad news for some cherry growers in Central Washington.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reported growers have been trying to prevent wet cherries from splitting by drying them with wind turbines and air sprayers and by hiring helicopters to fly over their orchards.

One helicopter crashed Monday while drying trees in Grant County and the sheriff’s office said the pilot was taken to a hospital with a back injury.

The amount of crop damage depends on a variety of factors, and the loss won’t be determined for a while. But the president of the Northwest Cherry Growers, B.J. Thurlby, estimates about 25 percent of the Bing cherry crop has been lost.

“At this point I just feel so sorry for the growers,” Thurlby said. “We don’t know if we’re going to have fruit day to day.”

The weather is bad for the unlucky growers it picks on, but overall it’s really not much worse than other recent years, said Nic Loyd, a meteorologist with Washington State University’s Agricultural Weather Network.

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