Ministry of Agriculture

Cherries

WHAT ARE CHERRIES?

[cherries]Cherries are a small, round, dark red stone fruit. They grow on trees in small clusters. There are both sweet cherries and sour cherries grown in BC. Sweet cherries are round or slightly heart-shaped.

WHERE ARE CHERRIES PRODUCED IN BC?

Cherries are grown in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Kootenay Valleys. They are sensitive to winter and spring frosts.

HOW MANY CHERRIES DO WE PRODUCE?

BC produces 5.5 million kilograms of sweet cherries and 1 million kilograms of sour cherries. This is about 60% of the Canadian cherry crop. The main varieties grown in BC are Bing, Lambert, Van, Lapins and Sweetheart. Newer varieties like Lapins and Sweethearts are late varieties which are receiving high returns in eastern and offshore markets.

HOW ARE CHERRIES PRODUCED?

Once planted, a cherry orchard takes 4 to 6 years to reach full production. Once cherry trees are established, the orchardist must regularly prune; fertilize; control weed growth, insects and disease; water; and replant trees to ensure the orchard is always healthy. Bee hives are placed in the orchards after the first blooms open to ensure pollination.

Cherries are harvested during the summer, mainly late June through July. Fruit must be harvested carefully because it can be damaged in picking or in moving from bucket to bin. Bruised fruit will not keep long, even in proper storage conditions. Fruit must be cooled immediately after being picked to avoid moisture loss. Shriveled fruit is not attractive to buyers.

WHAT DO CHERRIES LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?

Cherries are eaten fresh, made into pie filling, flavoured yogurt, jellies, jams, sauces, stewed fruit, fruit drinks, ice cream and candies. Cherries are a good source of vitamin C, the B vitamins, potassium and many micronutrients. Most sweet cherries are eaten fresh. Almost all sour cherries are processed.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE CHERRIES LEAVE THE FARM?

After cherries are picked, they are put into bins and moved from the orchard. Cherries are taken to packing houses where they are cooled before being packaged and shipped to buyers. Cherries are best kept at -1C to 1C throughout these operations to retain maximum quality. Cherries should be shipped to market 24 to 48 hours after harvest.

WHAT CHALLENGES DO CHERRY PRODUCERS FACE?

Little Cherry Disease is a serious threat to the cherry industry in the Okanagan-Similkameen and Kootenay Valleys. Japanese flowering cherries, a common ornamental grown in many gardens, can carry this disease without showing any signs of it. In an attempt to protect the cherry orchards, it has been made illegal for these flowering cherries to be grown in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys.

Researchers are developing dwarfing rootstocks. These smaller trees could be planted closer together thereby increasing total production per acre. Because the trees are smaller, labour costs for pruning and harvesting are reduced and smaller spray volumes are required due to less total leaf area.

WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING CHERRIES?

  • Orchard owner
  • Cherry picker
  • Packing house employees
  • Transporter/Truck drivers
  • Fruit Processors

Nutritional Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup, 21 cherries (140g)
Calories 90 Calories from Fat 0
  % Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.5g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 7%
Dietary Fibre 3g 12%
Sugars 19g  
Protein 2g  
Vitamin A 2% Vitamin C 15%
Calcium 2% Iron 2%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Interesting Fact About Cherries:

One of the main reasons that more cherries are not grown in BC is cherry fruit splitting. Rain covers can protect the fruit from this, but they can cost $44 to 50,000 per hectare.


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