Have you every noticed that some fruits never seem to disappear from the produce section of your grocery store? You can always find apples, oranges, peaches, bananas, etc., however that cannot be said for cherries. Cherries are only available for a limited time during the year. So if you want to enjoy them to the fullest, it’s important to know when they are in season.
The initial harvest begins in southern California; usually around mid to late April. The earliest cherry variety is the Brooks cherry, which is a cross between a Rainier and a Bing. From there, the harvest moves north through the state, and by early June, the harvest comes to an end in California. While the California season for sweet cherries is coming to a close, the cherries in Washington State are becoming ripe & ready for harvest. Washington cherries typically peak in early July & there are several different varieties of cherries grown there. They can be broken into dark/sweet cherries and Rainier cherries. The variations are usually in color, firmness, and sugar-to-acid ratio.
Now, you might be wondering, how long does it take from harvest to when the cherries actually hit the supermarkets? Since they are highly perishable, King Fresh Produce cherries are carefully transported from farm to truck and are hydrocooled within mere hours of picking. Cherries need this cold chain process to keep them as fresh as possible. The cherries are then either packed immediately, or kept in cold storage for packing in the next 24 hours. From there, it generally takes 1-2 days for nearby locations and 2-3 days for the east coast to receive CA cherries for retail, in your favorite grocery store.
Even though the overall cherry harvest lasts roughly 4 months, there are peaks in the season. The California cherries peak at the end of May/beginning of June, and prices tend to be higher for them…but they are more than worth it! Get ready…because sweet CA cherries are on their way!