Good Fruit Grower

May 15

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Page 22 of 55 GOOD FRUIT GROWER MAY 15, 2014 23 Cherries Tate Mathison, a sales leader with Stemilt Growers, Inc., of Wenatchee, said the bigger the crop, the more pressure there is on the later half of the marketing season. By that time, retailers are tiring of cherries, and the marketers are tired of pushing them. More pressure "I think it will continue to be very, very competitive late in the season," Mathi- son said. "Customers will demand larger cherries, firmer cherries, and there'll be more pressure to deliver a good eating experience. We've grown cherries in the late season my whole life, and we've seen demand for quality and size increase over the years." Scott Marboe, marketing director at Wenatchee-based Oneonta Trading Cor- poration, said that in July and August cherries compete with berries and grapes for space in the produce department. But late in the season is when cherry produc- ers can consistently provide the biggest and best quality fruit. "I look at that as a huge opportunity to grab that market away from blueberries and grapes," he said. Mathison pointed out that the late sea- son is the industry's best time to plan a promotion. It's a matter of aligning sup- ply with planned promotions to try to build the market. "We know the supply's coming and the more accurately that we can forecast and hit the daily average, the better we will do," he said. "We have a huge amount of fruit that needs to make its way through the supply chain and if you age that fruit because it's not picked on time or packed on time or not sold within a day or two, you're really limiting what's going to help us, which is the repeat sales." It's only in recent years that the North- west cherry season has peaked after July 4, Riggan noted, and he questioned whether producers have educated retail- ers and consumers well enough about the availability of later cherries. Consumer demos One of Chelan Fresh's strategies for boosting late-season sales has been to hold consumer demos and sampling in retail stores. Though it's expensive to do, consumers more often than not will buy cherries after tasting them. Less than a third of the customers at a typical grocery store buy cherries, Riggan said, and Chelan Fresh is trying to engage the large number of people who, for whatever reason, don't buy cherries. The cooperative introduced a new cherry variety, Orondo Ruby, which gen- erated excitement in the retail stores, and it is considering putting nine-row cher- ries in a special pack to sell at a premium. At the industry level, there are two things that could help strengthen the market in the late season, he said. One would be to increase export demand, which would shrink supplies on the domestic market and in effect increase demand. "And if I could just wave a wand and have something happen in the late season, I'd have Congress enacting a national holiday near the end of July, and give us something else to get more people in the store," he added. The discussion took place during the annual North Central Washington Stone Fruit Day in Wenatchee last winter. • TOPGUARD ® Fungicide Specialty Crops Only the best for the best. Contact your local crop advisor or dealer or visit Plan. Protect. Profit. TOPGUARD Fungicide Specialty Crops protects against powdery mildew and rusts beTer than any fungicide in its class. Its powerful systemic acOvity rapidly protects sprayed fruit and foliage, including new growth, providing maximum protecOon. For apples, TOPGUARD Specialty Crops tank-mixed with KOVERALL® Fungicide provides enhanced control of scab. For cherry leaf spot control in cherries, mix TOPGUARD Specialty Crops with a protectant. TOPGUARD Specialty Crops is an essenOal component of an apple or cherry fungicide program that maximizes fruit quality and tree health. Always read and follow label direcOons. TOPGUARD and KOVERALL are registered trademarks of Cheminova, Inc.

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