Shipments of cherries from the Northwest have surpassed 14 million boxes and should be close to preseason volume estimates when the season is over, according to an industry official.
B.J. Thurlby, president of the Washington State Fruit Commission and Northwest Cherry Growers, said the industry had projected a 2011 crop of about 16.8 million boxes earlier this spring.
Shipments should continue through most of August because of the late-ripening crop caused by cool spring weather.
Thurlby said the industry shipped a record 400,000 boxes Monday, the largest one-day total ever for August.
The record for the region is 20 million boxes in 2009.
The late-season packing will particularly help foreign exports, which make up about 32 percent of shipments so far.
For the first time, late-picked cherries will be ship-ped to Chinese-speaking countries, including China and Taiwan, for its Moon Festival, a lunar holiday that falls on Sept. 12 this year.
Typically, Northwest cherries are long gone by that holiday, Thurlby said.
In addition to Washington state, the largest cherry producer in the region, Northwest Cherry Growers also includes Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah.
Some harvesting is still going on in the Naches Heights and Cowiche areas as well as northcentral Washington.
While the late crop kept growers and marketers from supplying fruit to the retail market for the traditional Fourth of July holiday period, the industry is getting good retail space and promotion now, he said.