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Cold Spring: Plumper Cherries
Colder than usual weather can bring out the best in cherries...but it can't be too cold! Some predict a 30 percent drop in this year's cherry harvest due to colder temperatures. Cherry farmers in Eastern Washington have been pulling out the stops to help their crops survive this year's cold spring weather...using methods involving heat and water to protect the delicate buds from frost. But the good news is the cherries that do pull through will be bigger and juicier. So supplies may be limitedget them while you can!
And buy ORGANIC. The Environmental Working Group rated cherries #7 (out of 43) for high pesticide load, and so more farmers are transitioning to organic growing methods. The prediction is that by 2009 the organic cherry crop in Washington State will increase by 54 percent. Going organic has been challenging for local cherry farmers due to the cherry fruit fly, but a new type of insecticide that is registered for organic production seems to be working.
At my local farmers market, I enjoy the organic fruits of Tiny's Organic, located in Wenatchee, Wash. The pretty skin and sweet taste of the Rainier cherry has always been my favorite, but I'm looking forward to trying Tiny's top seller: Lapins cherries. I'm not sure why they are a top seller, but I won't mind experimenting!
As the curious growing gardener that I am, I wondered: What is it about climate and soil east of the Cascades that contributes to our wonderful cherries? I learned the relatively dry climate is basically a perfect combination of intense sunlight and cool nights that bring out sugar and acid for taste, and the heavily volcanic soil drains well. Another burning question: Can I grow my OWN cherries west of the Cascades?
I talked to Raintree Nursery, a fruit-tree, mail-order nursery in Morton, Wash. Cherry trees can produce a decent crop west of the Cascades, but if it's an usually wet and cold spring (like some of us in the Pacific Northwest can relate to!), fruit can crack and spoil. Here are a few best practices:
Recommended varieties include:
So grow your own! The birds will love them, too!
Fruit crops cut by cold - Seattle PI 4/24/08
Organic cherry crop set to double - Good Fruit Grower
The Growing Gardener is Gina Renee Lozier, a Seattle-area resident, a landscape and container garden designer, and an enthusiastic student of horticulture.
The Growing Gardener copyright 2008-2013.