PASCO, Wash.- It's the forecast no cherry grower wants to hear in June. Some choose to take some highflying measures to prevent rain from damaging a harvest full of fruit.
Helicopters are flying all over the place over farms and orchards. Most aren't spraying or surveying; they're actually being used as giant fans to dry cherries.
"It's really the most effective way and quick way to get the water off these crops," said Morgan Lohman, the president and pilot of his company. He says if water sits on the cherries the fruit will absorb the moisture and split, making it harder to sell at market or all together unprofitable.
When Lohman is flying he has to make sure he gets close enough to dry the water off the cherries. But not too close, because he might blow the cherries clear off the trees.
"If you get too low you can damage the fruit and bruise the fruit up," he said, but Lohman has been flying for years and he knows the exact distance needed to keep from the tops of the trees.
"When I called Morgan last night I said pack your bags you might be here a couple days," explained Patrick Sullivan, Co-Owner of K.P. Sullivan Farms.
When growers like Patrick Sullivan look at the weather forecast, sometimes they need the helicopters to make multiple runs at drying the fruit. He says the rain we had Tuesday isn't too bad and not damaging his cherries.
"We've got some dryers of our own that we've been using and in combination with the helicopter I think we're in good shape."