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When Is the Best Time To Pick Cherries?

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One way to ensure you’re transitioning from dreamy spring to full-blown summer is the beautifully blossoming cherry trees with juicy fruits waiting to be picked. Thanks to their sweet juiciness, cherries always have been. They will inevitably be linked to summer’s warmer temperatures and golden afternoons.

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What Are the Differences Between Cherry Trees?

More than a thousand types of cherries are available there, scattered in numerous countries worldwide. However, they are mainly divided into two well-known categories: sweet cherries and tart cherries. Each one of these categories has distinguishing features that ultimately set the fruits apart, make them more recognizable, and give them different final uses.

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All cherry trees have a solid foundation in terms of planting requirements, and they start to differentiate as we look at their more particular features. Having said this, sweet cherries grow in mild-temperature areas with low humidity. In contrast, tart cherries typically need cooler climates.

Of the two, tart cherry trees are more resilient to diseases, the cold, and poorer soils. Sweet cherry trees are higher maintenance, but you may get a better deal if you choose more modern cherry types of trees, unlike the more old-fashioned Bing type, for example, which tends to be pretentious.

When Is the Best Time To Pick Cherries?

Suppose you’re considering planting cherry trees and embarking on this exciting agricultural adventure. In that case, it’s only natural to want to know when the best time to pick cherries is. There is no cookie-cutter recipe for cherry-picking; this process can and will be impacted by the variety of cherry trees you choose, the temperature, and the weather.

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However, before knowing when to pick cherries and how to pick cherries from your very own trees, it’s essential to remember certain things. With proper maintenance and care, sweet cherry trees will start yielding fruit in 4-7 years since they were planted, while sour cherry trees will be more premature, with a 3-5 year waiting period.

fresh cherries with stems piled on green leaves

Once again, there are essential distinctions between sweet and sour cherry trees when picking fruit.
When you start picking them, sour cherries will come right off their stem, while sweet cherries must pass the tasting test.

During the last days of the ripening process, the sugar levels in these fruits grow drastically, so you’ll be able to tell just by tasting them every other day.

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Another distinction to be made comes down to the color of cherries. When it comes to sweet cherries, you should expect them to turn a dark red when they are ripe, and their stems to maintain a bright green color. It can be confusing sometimes, especially since different cherry varieties have different colors. For example, Rainier cherries will turn a yellow-red color even when they’re ripe. In this case, the ultimate taste is the cherries’ firmness and taste.

When pinpointing the best time to pick cherries, depending on where you are located geographically, the weather, and the variety of cherry trees you’ve chosen, the cherry-picking season only lasts about three weeks, between late June and early or even late July.

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If you find yourself during that time frame and your cherries look and taste like they’re almost reaching their maximum ripe levels, yet rain is imminent, be sure to pick them before showers happen since the rain can make the cherries split during this critical phase of their development. However, if there are no such pressing weather conditions, let your fruits ripen since you’ll ultimately consume them in the same stage they were when you picked them.

Each variety of cherry trees will yield different quantities of fruit. However, one mature standard-sized cherry tree will generate quite a lot of fruit, leaving you with enough produce to eat both raw and include in desserts for months.

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When talking about sweet cherry trees, you can expect the dwarf varieties to yield somewhere around 8-10 gallons of fruit per harvesting. The semi-dwarf variety will yield around 10-15 gallons of delicious fruit yearly, while the standard variety will yield between 15-20 gallons annually.

When it comes to sour cherry trees, you can expect to get around 3-5 gallons of fruit from the dwarf varieties, while the semi-dwarf will yield around 12-18 gallons of cherries.

How Do You Pick Cherries?

It’s best to pick cherries with their stems still attached if you plan to wait to use them. However, it would be best not to tear off the woody fruit spur, as it’s responsible for producing fruit every other year.

Fresh cherries some whole, some cut in half to see the pit inside. Fruit bowl in the background. 
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On the other hand, if you plan to cook them right away or can them, you can leave the stems behind on the tree.

How Do You Store Your Freshly Picked Cherries?

Depending on what you’re planning to do with your freshly picked cherries, there are several ways in which you can store them so that you can enjoy their benefits for a longer time.

If you plan to consume them right away, while they’re still fresh and oozing aroma, you need to know that you can only let them outside, at room temperature, for one day or two, at the most. Regardless of their variety, cherries are very perishable and will quickly lose all their qualities if you leave them un-refrigerated for more than one day.

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The alternative to this is to refrigerate them as soon as they’re harvested. You can store them in a plastic bag and put them away in your refrigerator. This way, they can last longer, and you can still consume them. At the same time, they’re juicy and delicious for around 4-10 days, depending on the cherry type, refrigeration temperature, and conditions.

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If you plan on using your cherries long after you’ve picked them, to bake them in a tart for Christmas, for example, it’s recommended that you freeze them. When freezing them in a bag, you can be sure you’ll be able to easily enjoy them within 10-12 months since you’ve put them away. Freezing is completely safe and most recommended for cherries since it doesn’t take away much from their natural nourishing nutrients.

Another way to store cherries for months is to dry them up naturally, which takes a lot longer, or in the oven, where you put them inside at 150 degrees F for about 10-12 hours. As soon as they’re done and if they’ve adequately dried, you can put them away in jars that you can keep away from direct sunlight.

What Benefits Do You Have by Picking Cherries at the Right Time?

Lastly, if you pick them when they are at their most ripe point and store them properly, you can genuinely take advantage of all their tremendous health benefits. Cherries are fruits that are naturally high in antioxidants, which make them an impressive aid in the fight against the body’s cellular aging process. Antioxidants will fight against the oxidative process and keep your immune system healthy, which may help you prevent several diseases from developing.

Cherries also have magnificent anti-inflammatory properties that are useful, especially for those suffering from gout and other arthritis-related conditions. A regular intake of cherries will often tone down painful gout attacks and offer the patient much sought-after relief from suffering.

When juiced, sour cherries will also be very effective for professional athletes or people suffering from training-related muscle pain and fatigue. Organic cherry juice will often help relieve muscles from inevitable fitness-related soreness.

Additionally, suppose you have sleep-related issues, in that you either fall asleep with difficulty or have trouble maintaining regularity in your sleep-wake cycle. In that case, you can rejoice that cherries can efficiently resolve this issue. Melatonin is a hormone contained in cherries that will level out your sleep patterns and that will also level out your skin color, removing blemishes and other discoloration.

Lastly, suppose you pick cherries when they are at their ripest form, and you have diabetes or have this disease running in your family. In that case, you can rest assured these fruits will not harm you since they have the lowest glycemic index among all the antioxidant fruits.

So if you’re looking to keep your blood sugar levels under control or steer clear from threatening diabetes while still being able to enjoy summer’s delicious juicy fruit, be sure to harvest cherries when their time is due and store them properly so you can return to them months on end. If you’re looking to regularly introduce these into your diet and suffer from diabetes, it’s best to consult with your physician as well to be on the safe side and discover the dosage that works for you.

All in all, it’s important to remember that there are many varieties of cherry trees, each with their own specifications. However, all cherries have a small three-to-four-week window where you can pick them in, usually from late June to late July. By not rushing the process and considering both the color and taste of your cherries, chances are you’ll pick them when they are their best, and you’ll be able to enjoy everything they offer.

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