The cherry season is here! It’s time for cherry picking. Canada has the world’s finest cherries. They’re usually grown in the Okanagan and Kootenay valleys of British Columbia, which have the perfect climatic conditions for the cultivation of cherries.
Cherry Picking Season and Guide
Want to enjoy the crunchy, delicious fruit? They are often in abundance from late June to early September. Flowers sprout in April or May and start bearing fruits by June, almost the same period as strawberries.
Types of Cherries
There are two types of cherries: sweet and sour cherries. Sweet cherries are reddish, plump and larger than the sour type. They’re often sold in grocery stores and farmers’ markets. About two-third of cherries are produced for fresh consumption. The demand for sweet cherries has grown over the years due to their health benefits.
Sour cherries are usually processed into finished products for consumption. These products include pie fillings, cherry juice, dried cherries etc. They are smaller and brighter in colour than their counterparts, sweet cherries.
When the sour cherry is cooked, its shape and texture remain the same. Their sweet flavour makes them an excellent choice for processed cherry products. Sour cherries are also called pie or tart cherries because they are most often used to produce jams, jellies, and preserves.
How are cherries grown?
Cherries thrive well in well-drained soil. Unlike the sweet ones, sour cherries are self-pollinating, though requiring pollinators like bees to transfer the pollen. To aid pollination, plant trees 25 feet apart. Sweet cherries do well in cold climate, while the sour type produces fruits in warm conditions. Fertilizers can be applied to plants for quick sprouting, but they aren’t of necessity.
While the cherries are growing, ensure you remove unwanted plants that grow alongside the crop by weeding. This prevents competition between the cherries and weeds.
Also, water the plant often to promote growth. You’ll need to stop watering them in the fall to make them dormant. Prune the fruits in late winter or early spring. If they are pruned in the late summer or fall, they will grow slowly, causing them to get damaged in the winter or cold season. Pruning can be in the form of a fan or espanier.
Thinking of the best time to plant cherries? Late fall or early winter. The sour cherries are self-fertile; thus you won’t need to plant many trees. While sour cherries aren’t prone to pest attacks, look out for aphids and large animals. Birds are less likely to feed on them since they’re too sour to taste. To harvest large cherries, pick by hands but for smaller ones, shake the tree or plant so they can fall off.
You can harvest your delicious fruits in late July or early August. You can decide to leave the fruits on the trees for a long period to improve their sweetness. After harvesting, wash, remove the stems and freeze cherries as soon as possible to keep them fresh. When kept under room temperature, they can last for two days. They can be frozen in bags for two weeks.
How to pick cherries
Below are steps involved in cherry-picking:
- In a mild way, hold the cherry between your fingers and thumb.
- Pluck the fruit carefully.
- Ripe cherries will easily fall into your hands.
- Repeat the above steps till you can hold more than one cherry in your hands.
- Put the fruits carefully in a bowl or container. Repeat this step.
- Ensure the container isn’t filled to the brim.
Cherry picking tips
- Typically, cherries increase in size till they’re ripe.
- Don’t pick cherries until they’re fully matured. Those picked before maturation won’t get ripened.
- Ripe sweet cherries are usually firm with stems attached. Sour cherries detach from their stems when picked.
- Pick firm cherries with fleshy, succulent skin and stem.
- Don’t expose picked cherries to sunlight
- Refrigerate cherries immediately after harvest so they can retain their freshness.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much money can you make cherry-picking in BC?
A cherry picker earns an average salary of $18.55 per hour in British Columbia.
Which month is cherry picking?
According to the year and growing season, cherry-picking may begin from mid or late may to late July.
Earlier on, we explained how cherries are grown, the types that exist and the picking process. Guess you have a vast knowledge of cherry-picking now. If you are looking for ways to have fun, go pick some berries. Don’t forget to grab a bucket on your way.