The 2019 cherry crop suffered one of the largest losses in recent memory, stemming from the unusual amount of rainfall the region experienced earlier this year, San Joaquin County’s agricultural commissioner said Wednesday.
The rains earlier this year caused a 51 percent loss in the cherry harvest valued at $61 million, Agricultural Commissioner Tim Pelican said.
“This is the worst (loss) I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” he said.
According to the 2017 crop report, cherries were the fifth-ranked commodity in San Joaquin County, valued at a total of $184.5 million. That was a huge increase from 2016, when the total harvest was valued at $58.5 million. The 2016 harvest was also affected by heavy rains.
A crop’s value depends on the yield of units per acre of harvest each year, Pelican said, and a normal cherry yield is about 2 tons per acre of land.
According to the 2017 crop report, there was a 3.1-ton yield for each unit of the 19,900 acres of land harvested for cherries. The total tonnage of cherries was 16,000, the report states.
In 2016, 19,700 acres of orchard yielded 1.19 tons per unit for a total of 23,600 tons of cherries, the report states.
But 2019 fell short.
“This year wasn’t even quite one ton (per acre),” Pelican said.
The loss didn’t only affect growers in the region, Pelican said — it affected the packing industry as well, as there was no fruit to box up and ship out.
“There was a lot of stuff that wasn’t useful,” he said. “When the crop is soft, or it’s splitting, or the colors aren’t right, they just can’t pack it.”
According to www.ggweather.com, Stockton saw 18.37 inches of rain between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019. Lodi saw 25.63 inches of rain between January and June of this year, according to www.patricksweeneydds .com.
Pelican said the coming year will now be a waiting game for growers.
“We’re hoping for better weather this year,” he said.
The 2018 crop report of the county should be released sometime this year. To view previous reports, visit www.sjgov.org/department/agcomm/crop_reports.