How Are Cherries Harvested?

Harvesting cherries on a small box.

Cherry blossoms announce the arrival of spring, followed by summer’s long, hot days and sweet, luscious fruit. Cherries are synonymous with pleasure in the sun, whether harvested straight from the tree or baked into blue-ribbon pie.

Cherries are harvested in different ways. Below, we have explained the entire process.

Harvesting Cherries

Hand-Picking the Cherries

Commercially grown cherries are grafted to a rootstock and planted in orchards in straight rows. On average, farmers plant roughly 100 trees each acre. Because cherry trees are not self-pollinating, two varieties of cherries must be planted in each orchard at a 9 to 1 ratio. The principal pollinator is honey bees.

It takes roughly six years for an orchard to produce its first big crop after it is planted. Cherries are hand-picked for the fresh market, leaving the stems, or pedicels, intact. They are collected when they are firm and mature, and color change is usually used to predict when they are ready to be harvested.

Fresh cherries have a short shelf-life and should be handled with care to avoid bruising. When cherries are picked from the trees, they are transported to a packing facility and instantly refrigerated using chilled water – the process is known as hydro chilling.

During harvest season, the region’s packaging facilities are nearly nonstop. Cherries are sorted by size and appearance, and their firmness and sweetness are assessed in the facility. Anything that does not meet the quality criteria is discarded. The good ones are then packed and delivered, and they’re usually on shop shelves within two days of harvest.

It’s a complicated process, and like so many other things, it’s difficult not to think of cherries as small treasures until you see what goes into manufacturing them.

Rain can cause a lot of damage to cherries as they get closer to harvest. As a result, the volume of each year’s crop in growing zones might fluctuate depending on spring weather.

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Buying Harvested Cherries

Check for weepy/decaying brown areas while purchasing cherries from a farmer’s market. The stems show when they were picked: if they’re fresh and green, they were picked shortly before you bought them.

If they’re dry and brown, they’ve been picked recently, but the dry stems have no effect on the fruit because they don’t suck moisture from it and vice versa. They are what they are once they have fallen from the tree.

If you buy them in the grocery store, the only decision you have to make is whether or not they’re organic. Before making it to shop shelves, cherries go through a rigorously high-standard processing process.

When to Harvest Homegrown Cherries?

When the birds start coming to your cherry tree for breakfast, you know red cherries are getting ready to be harvested. You’ll want to keep these freeloaders at bay; otherwise, they will rob you of your cherries. Covering your tree with lightweight nets is one method to do this. Nets can protect the fruit from predators. They’re simple to use and last a long time.

It’s better to pluck the fruit from your trees when the weather is just right. Wait until your cherries are firm and fully red before harvesting them since the sugar content increases dramatically during the last few days of ripening.

When tart cherries are ripe, they will fall off the stem; sweet cherries should be tasted to see if they are ready to pluck. After they’ve been picked, neither sort of cherry will continue to mature.

The cherry tree harvest season begins in most locations in early June and lasts until late July, depending on the variety and growing location.

How to Harvest Homegrown Cherries?

To harvest cherries you’ve grown in your garden, follow these tips.

  • Pick fruits just when they are completely ripe (dark red, black, or yellow) because the sugar content rises in the days before they are totally ripe.
  • Within a week, you should be able to harvest. Eat or prepare right away.
  • If you want to freeze fruits, pick them when they are firm.
  • Top-pick with the cherry stem to avoid tearing the fruit; nevertheless, lead the fruit spur to produce fruit the next year.
  • Hand-picking the shoots can cause injury and infection; instead, cut the stalks using scissors.
  • It’s important to remember that cherry trees don’t produce fruit until their fourth year. After that, they should be able to produce 30 to 50 quarts of cherries per year.

Final Thoughts

Cherries are a delicious fruit, but they aren’t available the entire year. Moreover, since they are so delicate, they have to be hand-picked to avoid any kind of damage. We’ve explained the harvesting process for cherries and provided some tips to help you harvest homegrown cherries.

Remember to be gentle when picking the cherries. Once you have harvested the cherries, store them properly as they can go bad quickly if left unpreserved.

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