Cherries baked by heat

By SUE RYAN

News staff writer

July 22, 2006

Three weeks of pick-out remain for cherry orchards in Hood River County, which looks to be a banner year for volume.

Neil Galone, vice-president of marketing for Diamond Fruit Growers, Inc., said estimates are the 2006 harvest will bring in a record amount of 14 million 20-pound boxes over last year’s 12 million.

But triple-digit temperatures a month ago took a toll on the quality of the fruit. That scenario may repeat itself this weekend with a forecast by the National Weather Service for 104 degrees in Hood River on Saturday.

“Heat pulls the moisture out to the leaf from the cherry,” said Bruce Kiyokawa, a field agent for Diamond Fruit Growers. “Temperatures around 90 degrees, we’re okay, but when it’s knocking on 100 degrees we get concerned.”

The first heat wave during harvest a month ago resulted in softer, smaller cherries being sent to market from across the Northwest. Galone said the July 4 holiday traditionally serves as an indicator for how well cherry sales will do for the season.

“What we usually hope for after the Fourth is to see all the retailers reorder,” he said. “This year after the Fourth we were hearing they still had loads on the floor unilaterally across the country.”

The harvest continues as it did Thursday afternoon in Trent Weseman’s orchard near Parkdale. Pickers had begun Tuesday and Weseman planned to bring on his largest crew yet Friday morning to try and beat the heat.

His father, Jim Weseman, and crew supervisor Abelino Barajas rounded workers up at 2 p.m. as temperatures rose. Jim said this year’s harvest of Lapins out of the orchard was the first true harvest of fruit from it.

“Last year everybody dropped and the first year we got frosted out,” he said.

This year’s harvest is running later than last year, according to Oregon Sweet Cherry Commission chairman Dana Branson.

“It’s not over yet; things are later this year as far as maturity goes but everything is going later than usual,” she said. “For example, in The Dalles they are still picking Bings and Rainiers.”

Kiyokawa said the remaining orchards to be picked in Hood River County are mainly in Parkdale.

“We have probably some of latest cherries in the valley just starting including Bings, Lapins and then Sweethearts,” he said.

He said production in the upper valley will continue to increase with some plots reaching full maturity in 2008-2010.

*****

Cherry coverage continues in the July 26 edition with a story on cherry market forces.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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