Young's cherries show they're sweet and hardy
Bad weather has not damaged the stars of National Cherry Festival. Photo: Quentin Jones
Young is on track to celebrate one of the best cherry harvests in recent years, despite a fierce storm on Tuesday afternoon and a forecast heatwave on Friday.
Temperatures are expected to climb to 40 degrees and remain in the high 30s over the weekend.
Pickers are knocking off work in the middle of the day to avoid the heat.
Cherry Growers Association spokesman Scott Coupland said the heat would have minimal impact on the fruit because of high moisture in the ground.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 people are expected over Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Young's National Cherry Festival.
Orchardist Barisha Batinich said the district's crops of sweet and dark premier cherry Ron's Seedling, were excellent, even though the storm dropped 11 millimetres of rain on his property.
''It was the best-case scenario, it just rolled through, plenty of wind followed to dry everything out.''
He said 26 pickers were on his orchard, where the excellent quality was keeping wastage to a minimum.
''We picked 190 lugs [crates] yesterday and only six were slightly damaged. That is a one-in-four-year pack-out rate. Prices have dropped a bit, but we are not throwing out bad cherries. That's when the cost graph goes the other way.
''When you are throwing out rubbish you have to put on more staff and you run the machines slower.
''This way [with good fruit] we can pack what we pick.''
Young Shire Council marketing officer Claire Myers said cyclonic winds brought down big trees and heavy rain fell at nearby Kingsvale and further west at West Wyalong.
A clean-up was under way before visitors arrived, some to buy and pick their own fruit, as well as to celebrate with a parade, fireworks and visits to wineries in the hilltops region.
At Kingsvale, orchardist Robert Fitzpatrick said the rain had been variable.
''We survived well. We had 25 millimetres but it came and went with no damage.
''The biggest thing is the time the fruit is wet. You can have misty rain for two days and it will do more damage.
''This rain did more good than harm. It watered the later ripening fruit. I heard there was a little tornado in town.
''We have still got our fingers crossed. You cannot get too cocky, it could be your turn next.''