It's two down and one to go for the Utah fruit industry.
Winter was just about perfect, not deadeningly cold but rich with snow.Spring was chilly and on the wet side, driving cowardly bees into their hives and leaving some trees unpollinated.
And now, summer. The fate of Utah's 1993 crop of tart and sweet cherries, peaches, apricots, apples and pears is left to this season.
At the outset, most growers, except those in Box Elder County, are confident it will be a decent year. They don't look for perfect crops or huge sales.
But as grower Morris Ercan-brack of Orem puts it, "We're hoping there will be some margin in there for a profit."
Tony Hatch, the state extension fruit specialist, said Utah growers can expect a good apple crop and a peach crop much better than last year's.
And though tart cherry production is expected to be less than half the size of last year's crop, that's not all bad news.
There were far too many tart cherries - the kind used in pie - and so the size and quality was not good in 1992. This year's crop is about two to three weeks away from harvest, and quality should be much better.
Ercanbrack said growers are finding that the trees that survived the 20-degrees-below-zero temperatures of February 1989 and December 1990 are beginning to rebound.
The smaller crop of tart cherries is one indication, he said. A healthy tree will slough off excess cherries, but a weak one will let every scrawny cherry survive. That was the case last year, Ercanbrack said.
"All you could see out there was red," he said.
This year, even the surviving peach trees seem healthier, Ercanbrack said. "The foliage on the tree looks a lot better."
The Utah Agricultural Statistics Service predicts the sweet cherry crop will be about a third of the 1992 crop, and Hatch said that's largely due to the rainy spring's effect on the bees.
"They're big cowards. They see a rain cloud and they head for the hives," Hatch said.
Tart cherries and most peaches self-pollinate, and peaches and apples both had good blooms this spring, Hatch said.
The biggest worry of most fruit growers is heavy wind and hail. When fruit is young, wind and hail knock it off the trees. When it's mature, it's bruised.
Hail already brought many Box Elder County crops to an early end.
Just before dawn on June 6, ten minutes of marble-size hail wiped out the fruit on hundreds of trees, particularly apricot and cherry, in the fields around Perry.
"It's sickening. It's heartbreaking," said Joyce Mathews, whose sons run Mathews Fruit & Produce in Perry.
"We have two fields of peaches that won't amount to anything," she said. And the family lost all its melons, crenshaws, cantaloupes and honeydews that they intended to sell at a new fruit stand this summer.
Her sons have replanted, but whether the melons can make it through the 90-day growing cycle before frost is a gamble, she said.
"Our tomatoes were like sticks, but they're starting to leaf out now," Mathews said.
Utah County, where 75 to 80 percent of Utah's fruit is grown, has so far escaped the ravages of summer weather.
As fickle as the weather is, it's no more unpredictable than the market for Utah's crops.
Morris Jackman, president of Muir-Roberts Co., a Salt Lake City fruit shipper, said it's foolhardy to try to predict how lucrative the crops will be until they are out of the fields.
"Anyone who predicts the markets right now is not too smart," he said. "It's nearly impossible."
Utah is not a dominant supplier of any one fruit, so its shortages can't influence prices.
The state has the greatest sway in the tart cherry market, and even that's not much. Utah and New York take turns as the second largest producer, but both are far behind Michigan.
Michigan has the capacity to produce 300 million tons; Utah has capacity for 30 million.
"A short crop in Michigan on pie cherries and a large crop in Utah is ideal, but the reverse isn't true," Jackman said.
Ercanbrack said a disaster in Michigan would drive up prices.
Two years ago, tart cherries brought 40 to 50 cents per pound, which equaled $4,000 per acre for some growers.
"Now that was money," Ercan-brack said.
That was also the kind of return that keeps growers in the unpredictable business.
"If you're grower, you have to have a positive attitude," the Orem grower said. "If you're negative, you better get out of the business."