FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --The beginning of the cherry harvesting season is off to a worrisome start. Recent storms have caused damage to the Valley's valuable cherry crop.
Bright red cherries in big bunches are rapidly maturing in an Easton orchard. Many growers are ready to begin picking their crop. But the recent rains have caused some cherries to crack. Water settles on and soaks into the fruit so when it warms the cherry expands and cracks.
At this point Tony Yasuda of KY Packing said cherry damage in Fresno County is not as bad as other areas.
"I think it's going to be widespread. People down in Bakersfield, Delano, and Tulare-- those people got hit and we got more rain again yesterday."
Ranch manager Chris Niederfrank said the damage in his orchard is minimal, but cloudy skies and rain are not welcome during cherry season.
"If we get a big rainstorm come through here we're pretty much done on the one variety. It's going to annihilate what's there, because the fruit is so far along, it's firm, it's gonna crack and it's pretty much not going to hold up in the market."
Some growers protected their cherries by spraying them with calcium before the rain.
"Anytime you can put something on that cherry to coat that cherry, to disrupt and pollute that rainwater, to not let that rainwater go through that skin," said Yasuda.
And if it does rain many growers spray their trees with air to dry off the cherries.
"Once it quit, and the sun started to come out, we put our sprayers in here to blow the cherries off just to get the rain out of here," said Niederfrank.
Some cherries are more sensitive than others. The yellow rainier cherries are growing in popularity, but they're susceptible to windy conditions.
"The bruising on them, it ruins the cherry because it just beats them up and scars them," said Niederfrank.
We'll know more about the extent of the cherry damage in a few weeks, but it's clear the harvest is off to an ominous start.