Cherries are a tasty fruit loved by many. Sweet cherries were likely transported to Europe by birds from Asia Minor in the rich plains between the Black and Caspian seas. The Greeks first cultivated cherries, and Romans proceeded to enhance and expand output.
Cherries arrived in the United States in 1629 with English colonists and were later introduced to California by Spanish missionaries. Sweet cherries were transported west by pioneers and fur traders in the 1800s to key producing areas in Washington, Oregon, and California. California is now the second-largest producer in the United States, after only Washington. California’s harvest season runs from mid-April to early- to mid-June.
Globally, Turkey is the world’s largest cherry producer, while the United States claims the second spot. While sweet cherries are grown primarily in the United States and Turkey, sour cherries are grown in Eastern and Southern Europe.
Turkey is in the Lead
Turkey is the world’s leading cherry grower, having produced approximately 500 thousand metric tons in 2020. The country is ranked third in terms of exports, behind Chile, with the majority of its exports going to the Russian Federation and European Union countries.
Previously, cherry harvesters in Turkey did not use modern methods and strategies to grow the plant, but with recent advancements, they have been able to progressively use modern harvesting techniques, as well as extend their harvest season, for improved productivity.
Turkey has the most cherry plantations, with the United States and Italy coming in second and third, respectively. Turkey exports more than 60% of its goods to the European Union, which is similar to Spain’s situation.
Cherries in the United States
The United States is a major supplier of cherries and the world’s second-largest producer, after Turkey. Until the last decade, the United States was the world’s largest producer, but Turkey has since surpassed it.
The viability of the cherry industry in the United States is dependent on domestic consumption as well as exports. One of the most important aspects of the continued success of cherries in the United States is advertising. Various displays and audio promotions emphasize the numerous health benefits of cherries, boosting sales significantly.
Most cherry cultivars have an 800-hour chilling requirement, which means that the winter season must have at least 800 hours of temperatures below 45 °F (7 °C) in order to break dormancy, flower, and set fruit. Minnie Royal and Royal Lee are “low chill” cultivars that require cross-pollination and need 300 hours or less of chill time, whereas Royal Crimson is self-fertile.
Growing cherries is now possible in the moderate winter climates of the southern United States, thanks to these types. This is great news for California sweet cherry growers, as the state is the second-largest producer of the fruit in the United States.
Sweet cherries thrive in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario, where a cherry festival has been held every year in Osoyoos for the past seven decades.
Other British Columbia regions where cherries grow include the Similkameen Valley and the Kootenay Valley, which together produce 5.5 million kg of cherries each year, accounting for 60 percent of total Canadian output. ‘Van,’ ‘Rainier,’ ‘Lapins,’ ‘Chelan,’ ‘Sweetheart,’ ‘Staccato,’ ‘Skeena,’ ‘Christalina,’ and ‘Bing’ are some of the sweet cherry types grown in British Columbia.
Cherry Production in Australia
Australian cherries are grown in six states, with New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania producing the most and South Australia producing the least.
Plantings have been rapidly expanding, and these four states are focusing heavily on exports. Western Australia and Queensland are both modest producers who largely cater to their home markets.
Due to climate variance, varietals, and growing season, Australian Cherries are accessible from mid/late October to late February, depending on the state and seasonal calendar. Australian Cherries are currently produced in quantities of up to 15,000 tons per year, with 30% of them being exported.
Cherries are produced in different countries around the world. Turkey is the largest producer, followed by the United States. Australia also produces substantial quantities of cherry. This means that you should be able to get your hands on good-quality cherries regardless of your location.