US (WA): Raspberry crop breaks records

In Whatcom County, in the state of Washington, red raspberry production has set a new high mark. The numbers for the 2016 harvest have been compiled by the Washington Red Raspberry Commission, and they show more than 75 million pounds of the Lynden-area signature crop taken in last summer.

That’s well above the 68.6 million pounds harvested two years ago, which had been the record. The 2016 tally, statewide, is over 78 million pounds, also a new record.

Three factors can be credited, said Henry Bierlink, administrator of the Lynden-based commission. They are: some increase in acres planted, a year of good growing and harvest weather, and the expanding impact of the new Wakefield variety that is starting to replace the long-running Meeker.

Still, the strength of the harvest, as tonnage was tallied in October, came as something of a surprise, Bierlink said.

Whatcom is the capital of red raspberries grown for processing in the United States, typically at least two-thirds of the national total. Local acreage, operated by 78 growers, is estimated at about 10,000, according to WRRC.

2015 was an off year, with production around 50 to 52 million pounds, the least in seven years. So this year’s bounce-back was all the more pronounced. In both Whatcom County and statewide, the year-to-year jump was about 46 percent.

On the other hand, the average price to growers — across all blends, before any packing or processing — is at its lowest point in four years, at 90.6 per pound of berries. For three years it was over $1.


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