Winter weather hurting local cherry growers

This year's crop may not be ready for the annual Emmett Cherry Festival.

EMMETT - A potentially record-breaking cherry crop expected this year across the Pacific Northwest, but not in Emmett.

The harsh winter and cold spring continue to have lasting impacts across Idaho.

"I've seen bad springs but nothing like this snow and the cold that we had," Harold Williams, owner of Williams Fruit Ranch in Emmett, said.

Williams is trying to stay positive after the unusual winter hit his orchards hard leaving him with only three of his 12 acres of cherries harvestable. He said for any fruit to do well, it needs to be warm, no wind and no frost.

"Oh there's scattered cherries, but there's nothing harvestable,” he said.

Williams runs a you-pick orchard where people can come out and harvest their own cherries. With only 3 acres of harvestable cherries, business isn’t looking good.

"The crop is not going to last very long,” he said. “We'll have a short season."

Cherries play a big role in the farming industry in Emmett, so he’s not alone.

"Basically no cherries,” Williams said. “My neighbor down the road here, he figures he won't even open up. He doesn't have enough to even open up to you-pick."

It’s not just cherry growers who will feel the loss.

"We probably won't get as many visitors that come from over the hill that come here for Emmett cherries…but because there aren't as many, it might have an impact on how many visitors we have and businesses that get that extra attention from people coming into town that aren't from here," Emmett Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karin Adams said.

Adams said they will likely have to bring in cherries from surrounding areas to keep up with demand for this year’s Cherry Festival. It runs from June 14 through June 17.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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