In case you haven’t heard, the forecast for the next couple weeks is hot, hot, HOT! There’s not a day in the foreseeable future that doesn’t have a high in the triple digits and a devilish little red thermometer indicating this inevitable heat wave.

Just like snowmen and fudge and delicate flowers, cherries would prefer to avoid extreme heat. In fact, there is a direct relationship between rising temperatures and reduced quality. While the arid desert climate of eastern Washington provides ideal growing conditions in many aspects, extended periods of high temperatures can make for challenging harvest conditions. Yet when Mother Nature throws a curve our way (always during cherries, ALWAYS), we step into it. The great thing about having so many years of farming experience (other than an epic farmer’s tan) is that we’ve got lots of tools available to ensure we can preserve and protect the quality of our fruit during any weather event.

Here are just a few ways we’re beating the heat out in the field:



The first step in keeping cool is managing the temperature in the field. We have invested heavily in protective mesh coverings for our cherry and blueberry ranches. The netting spans the length and the width of each orchard and fully encloses all the trees/bushes in a shady little respite from the blazing sun. Not only do these physical barriers prevent wind and bird damage, but they also reduce the temperature inside the netting by up to seven degrees. That can make a big difference in quality, especially when it starts to hit 100!



Once the cherries have been picked into bins, cold layers of wet foam are placed on top to protect the fragile fruit from sun and heat. Bins are always placed in the dark shadows of the orchard rows to minimize any additional heat exposure. Think of cherries as your porcelain-skinned friend who slathers on sunscreen while sitting under a wide-brimmed hat in the shade. They are THAT high-maintenance.



Despite the efforts we take to reduce the ambient temperature in the field, the fact is that summer days here in eastern Washington get pretty toasty and so does the fruit. Almost immediately after picking, we will use these neat contraptions called “hydrocoolers” to do just what the name implies- reduce temperature using water. By sending our cherries through these tunnels of ice cold water, we are able to remove a lot of that field heat and prepare them for cold transport and storage. We have 24 hydrocoolers that are used on-site at our ranches and packing facilities. Most of these are portable and can be moved to any ranch that is harvesting, thus reducing the time our cherries spend in the heat. Did we mention cherries like to be cold?



Once the cherries are nice and chilly, we load them into refrigerated trucks to make the trip to our packing facilities where they are bagged or boxed up in preparation to be shipped to you!

That’s just a snippet of all the steps our growers take to deliver these delightfully juicy morsels of summer to market. It’s a heck of a lot of work, but it’s worth it!

Our growers work hard to make sure you receive the best fruit so it’s important that you maintain the cold chain after purchase as well. Keep these tips in mind when you buy cherries:

  • • Refrigerate cherries immediately after purchase. The longer the delay of cooling, the shorter the shelf life. More quality is lost in one hour at 70°F than in 24 hours at 32°F.
  • • Purchase smooth, firm cherries with supple stems. Properly cooled fruit will retain its texture, firmness, and green stem color.
  • • Avoid cherries that are displayed in the sun or warm areas as they may have become soft and lost sweetness.