Northwest cherry growers have to cut down infected trees to prevent the disease from spreading before entire orchards are reduced to stumps.
Little cherry disease has devastated growers in California and Canada. Northwest farmers can request training from Washington State University Extension staff or obtain a booklet to help identify fruit affected by the disease.
“They’re small and pale, but they’re either bland or bitter,” said Tianna DuPoint, an extension staff member in Wenatchee, Washington. “So they won’t hurt you if you eat them, but they’re not marketable.”
B.J. Thurlby of the Northwest Cherry Growers industry group said the crop will be reduced largely because of little cherry disease and spring frost.
Exports to China will be down, but may be offset by exports to other parts of Asia, Thurlby said.
“We’re expecting at least two million boxes just to (South) Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam,” Thurlby said. “So that should be a good export deal for us.”