Whether putting them in delicious puddings or simply eating them straight out of the bag – cherries never disappoint! These juicy, red gems are the pinnacle of summer fruits in the US. The place to get cherries is a U-pick farm or farmer’s market – guaranteeing the freshest cherries out there!
- When Is Cherry Season?
- What States Produce Cherries?
- When Is The Best Time To Go Cherry Picking?
- Can You Buy Cherries Year-Round?
- Difference Between Tart And Sweet Cherries?
The cherry season runs from the end of April until late August with two main types of cherries produced, namely sweet and tart cherries. Sweet cherries are in season between May and August. Sour cherries are available in June, in warm regions, and until July or August in colder areas.
When Is Cherry Season?
In North America, the cherry season runs from the end of April until late August. During this time, cherries will start hitting the shops, farmer’s markets, and grocery stores around the US – just in time for summer!
The US produces two main types of cherries, namely sweet cherries and tart or sour cherries. These two types become available at different points during the summer months.
When Are Sweet Cherries In Season?
Sweet cherries (Prunus avium) are the favorite of the two types of cherries and dominate over the cherry season. These cherries are available from May until the end of August.
Sweet cherries are the most popular type as they are what one may think of when looking for cherries. These types are round, sweet and deep red. Due to their delicious sweetness, they are commonly eaten straight out of the bag!
The biggest cultivars of sweet cherries in the US are Bing and Rainier.
Other major cultivars are:
When Are Tart Cherries In Season?
Tart Cherries (Prunus Cerasus) are also known as sour cherries or pie cherries. These cherries become available for about only one to two weeks in June within warmer regions. However, in colder areas, these tart cherries can be found until July and even August.
The two main types of tart cherries found in season are Nanking cherries and Evans cherries.
What States Produce Cherries?
In the world, the United States of America is the second-largest producer of cherries. The US falls just below Turkey, which leads the global cherry production.
There are a variety of states throughout the US that produce cherries. However, a few states are more tailored towards sweet cherries, whereas others are towards tart cherries.
Michigan is widely known as the cherry producing state due to the sheer number of cherries grown there! However, they are known more for their tart cherries.
What States Produce Sweet Cherries?
Sweet cherries are produced all over the United States. However, a few states are recognized for their impressive, sweet cherry production.
The primary states that cultivate sweet cherries are Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Wisconsin, and California.
In 2020, Washington trumped all other states with their sweet cherry production. After Washington, the state with the second-highest output was California and then followed by Oregon.
What States Produce Tart Cherries?
Most tart cherries are grown in Michigan. Interestingly, Michigan accounts for close to 74% of the tart cherry production within the US.
Traverse City within Michigan is often referred to as the Cherry Capital of the world due to their massive production! Furthermore, there is a yearly National Cherry Festival hosted within Traverse City, where they make the world’s largest cherry pie!
Other states that are recognized for their tart cherry production are:
- New York
In 2020, Michigan produced the majority of the tart cherries (unsurprisingly). The second was Utah, followed by Washington.
When Is The Best Time To Go Cherry Picking?
The best time to go cherry picking depends on the state one would like to pick from. The best idea is to check the state and then their harvesting dates to know when the ideal time is for picking cherries!
Below is a list of some states and their cherry harvesting dates!
Cherry Harvesting Time Frame
May 5 to June 30
Beginning of June to Early August
Middle of June to end of July
July 1 to July 31
Beginning of June to end of July
June to August
The above harvesting dates are subject to change depending on weather and various other factors that may affect a farms’ harvest. It is advisable to call a farm before going cherry-picking to ensure that one is visiting in their ideal picking time as these dates can shift yearly.
Can You Buy Cherries Year-Round?
Fresh cherries, both sweet and tart that have been recently harvested, are only available between April and August. However, cherries can be found in other forms other than fresh ones within grocery stores.
The most common type of cherry that one will find outside of the season is dried cherries. These can be used in cereals, smoothies as well as various baked goods.
Occasionally, one can find bags of frozen sweet or tart cherries. However, this can be relatively hard to find.
The other consistencies that are available outside of the season are:
- Cherry concentrate
- Cherry juice
- Canned cherries
Difference Between Tart And Sweet Cherries?
The main difference between tart and sweet cherries is how one would consume them.
Sweet cherries are mostly enjoyed fresh off the tree and out the bag. Additionally, they can be added to salads to freshen them up. Tart cherries, however, are mostly baked, turned into jam or made into juice.
In terms of appearance and taste, the tart and sweet cherries differ. The tart cherries are a bright red, but one rarely sees them like this as they are mostly made into another consistency. The appearance of sweet cherries depends mainly on their growers.
The primary sweet cherry producers are Bing and Rainier. Bing cherries are arguably the most famous and loved type of cherry. They have the typical heart shape with a deep red coloring. They are very sweet and firm.
On the other hand, Rainier cherries are yellowish with slightly less sweetness to them than Bing cherries.