GRANGER, Wash. -

Cherry growers say a warm, dry spring has encouraged the crop to ripen early.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports picking has begun in the Columbia Basin and parts of the Yakima Valley and cherries will be ready for picking in coming weeks in the Wenatchee Valley and Okanogan areas.

The president of Northwest Cherry Growers, B.J. Thurlby, says more fresh cherries will be available in June than ever before. Growers expect about a third of the crop will be picked by July.

Plenty of cherries should be available to consumers for the Fourth of July weekend.