Hood River Cherries Brad Fowler Discusses Upcoming Harvest
HOOD RIVER, OR - It’s 5 a.m. for cherry blossoms, nestled in their buds and sleeping soundly. Brad Fowler, Co-Founder of Hood River Cherries, tells me that when the daylight begins to shine at 6 a.m. he hopes the cherries sleep in through any remaining chill before it's time to rise and bloom.
“Our trees are still sound asleep for harvest this year, and we would like for the trees to hit the snooze button a bit because right now things are looking a little bit ahead of schedule. That does not mean harvest will be, as it will be at least another month before we have any flowers coming out on cherries,” Brad shares.
He has just come in from counting flowers inside the bud with his team members, and right now things look favorable for the upcoming harvest season, which usually runs from July 15 to September 1.
“Our company’s volume has the potential to be identical to last year, maybe even a little bit more. Last year, it was exceptional and we are hoping all the trees remember what they did,” he laughs.
Both volume and quality mirroring last year’s Northwest cherry season would be a boon to the increasing demand the fruit is seeing year over year from consumers, who consistently keep on the lookout for the first cherries to hit stores and menus.
“Demand has been going up fairly constantly; it’s the supply that goes up and down,” Brad points out. “Mother Nature makes a call, we just have to live with what she decides. At this moment it looks perfect, but there are a lot of forks in the road between now and cherry harvest.”
He explains that part of the fervor is that cherries are the first summer fruit that excites people, followed by the other seasonal bounties they dream of.
“I think the future for cherries is really bright. Go to a party, and bring a bowl of cherries and see what happens. People are passionate about them. At the same time, the American consumer is getting more experienced and sharper all the time. If we as an industry don’t deliver product that really tastes good, the consumer won’t come back and buy it again,” he shares. “Though many of the factors that influence this are out of our control—much of it is up to Mother Nature—we go to extreme measures to ensure our cherries taste good in every area we can control.”
Those factors include best practices, counting those blossoms, and doing whatever the team can to make sure they stay tucked in. Because in terms of harvest it’s still 5 a.m., and even cherries need their beauty sleep.