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Slight Chance Of Rain Has Cherry Growers, Pickers Frantic

The limbs of Central Washington’s cherry trees are heavy with ripe fruit. In Moxee, crews are scrambling to bring in a harvest while the skies are clear and the weather is dry.

The National Weather Service predicts a 20 percent chance of rain by the end of the week. Slim, but It’s making fourth-generation Yakima Valley grower Mark Roy nervous.

Rain water gathers in the little bowl around the stem of the cherry. The fruit can only absorb so much, so eventually its skin splits.

“So, you’ve nurtured this crop all year long, pruned it, fertilized it, irrigated it and the last minutes before harvest, basically, maybe a day or two before, you get dumped on with water and your crop is gone,” Roy said.

A state inspector can reject the whole lot if the fruit is damaged.