Moses Lake, WA 98837, USA

California modifies cherry import rules

Staff Writer

OLYMPIA — The California Department of Food and Agriculture issued new rules in December that will allow cherry processors in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah to continue shipping cherries even if fruit fly larvae are found in cherries they have shipped. The Washington State Department of Agriculture announced the changes on Jan. 8.

Previous rules stated that if fruit fly larvae were found on cherries shipped to California, the cherry processor could not ship any more cherries into the state for the rest of the season. Under the new rules, shipments will be divided into individual orchard blocks and identified. Only those blocks that test positive for fruit fly larvae will be suspended, not the entire processing facility.

According to Derek Sandison of WSDA, this news comes at a time when exports to markets, such as China, are experiencing uncertainty.

“Through no fault of their own, our growers have faced increased barriers to foreign markets and suffered financial losses as a result,” Sandison said in a WSDA press release. “They have been forced to seek new and expanded opportunities for a highly perishable product. We are pleased that WSDA has been able to help by working with our partners in California and ease restrictions faced by our cherry producers.”

With annual production rates of approximately $480 million a year, this is good news for cherry growers and processors.

“Cherry growers will benefit greatly from the updated permit, which will focus on evaluating conditions in individual orchards to prevent the spread of pests,” said Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, in a press release. “Growers will no longer lose access to customers in California simply because their packer discovered a problem in another grower’s fruit. We appreciate the work of WSDA and the CDFA in meeting with our producers and updating the permit prior to the 2020 cherry season.”

Each shipment of cherries will have random samples taken from each bin. If fruit fly larvae are found, the blocks from that shipment will immediately be shipped out of the state.

Rachal Pinkerton may be reached via email at