YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Thanks to a warm spring, the Northwest's cherry season is off to a hot start.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that a record number of cherries were shipped in May — more than 651,000 20-pound boxes. That's according to the Northwest Cherry Growers, which represents 2,500 growers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana.

The earliest cherries were shipped on May 20, much earlier than in past years: Five years ago, the first cherries weren't shipped until June 15.

The growers organization predicts that about 18.4 million boxes will be shipped during this year's harvest, with a little more than half of that coming this month.

Despite the early start, the total harvest is expected to be a little less than last year's, due in part to problems with the Bing variety.

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