Sweet Cherries in New England

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Cherries are the second fruit of the “pick your own” season in New England, after strawberries. Cherries are one of the most beautiful tree fruits! Sweet cherries are known to have plenty of health benefits since they are high in antioxidants, and low in cholesterol, fat, and sodium. They are also a good source of Vitamin C and fiber.

cherries

For a pick your own farm, cherry trees on a full-dwarf root stock (smaller trees) are the best option. They are easier for pickers and farmers to navigate and they bear the most fruit. Of the nine varieties of sweet cherries here at Parlee Farms that cover almost two acres of land, the majority are the Black Gold and Rainier varieties. The Black Gold are self-fertile cultivars and do not require cross pollination. A large cherry variety, it is a cross between Stella and Gold and resists cracking in wet weather. The Rainier variety does require cross pollination and is planted in sets of two or three varieties. A cross between the Bing and Van cherry varieties, the Rainier is a golden yellow cherry with an impressively sweet flavor. The variety was named after Mount Rainier, the highest peak in Washington.

Cherries grown in New England must overcome a few challenges. The first is the weather. There is a very short time frame for cherries due to the weather conditions in New England. The picking season typically only lasts for about three weeks from late June into mid-July. If it rains often while the fruit is present, it can further reduce the season since cherry trees like well-drained soil. The skin of the cherry is more prone to cracking with too much rain. The second challenge is birds. Some varieties are more attractive to birds than others, but cherry trees need to be protected. The best way to keep the birds away from cherry trees is by covering them with nets. If the trees aren’t covered, the tree will likely be left with bare pits hanging from their stems!

If you enjoy cherries, we hope that you are able to go picking during the short time span that they are available here in New England! Remember, cherries are very perishable and do not ripen after picking. Pick fully ripe cherries and refrigerate them soon after purchase. They can remain fresh in your refrigerator for at least 2 days.

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This post was written by Parlee Farms