A reminder that cherry season is in full swing and it is important to remind industry to be informed and aware of expectations for Washington cherries. Washington cherries can be treated as a separate State grade and they have a standard that is a little more lenient than other cherry standards in order to allow for some production issues that Washington cherries have typically faced. During the 2016 DRC Board and Annual General Meetings, changes were made to the By-Laws and Operating Rules notably making the introduction to DRC Good Arrival simpler and easier to understand. Small changes were also made in the US #1 column to more accurately reflect ONLY USDA Grade Standards. Users will note the line for Washington Sweet Cherries has been removed. Nothing has changed for firms who agree to purchase and sell Washington #1 sweet cherries. The reference has simply been removed as the table is meant to reflect the default guidelines when no grade or other specification has been agreed upon. There are many grade standards on many different commodities which parties may reference and agree to contract for. Like the Washington #1 standard, it must be agreed to or the default Good Arrival Guidelines apply.
DRC Good Arrival Guidelines are compiled from PACA Good Arrival Guidelines, USDA Grade Standards and Canadian Grade Standards. The grade for Washington #1 Cherries was created by Washington State to account for production issues faced by Washington growers. The Washington guideline allows for 30% defects versus 15% defects for USDA good delivery.
When industry buyers purchase or think they are purchasing Washington cherries and the seller includes wording Washington #1 Sweet Cherries, there may be some confusion. The seller may be referring to standard expectations and not the product itself.
Always be sure to take a close look at documents you are receiving and double-check that the documents include the agreed upon grade standards. In the case of a dispute, the burden is on the shipper to prove that the terms were discussed, understood and agreed upon (DUA). If you are buying cherries from Washington you should be aware of the standard and double-check all documentation. The practice of verifying your documentation to ensure grade standards are as agreed should not be exclusive to the cherry category.