Local Growers Harvest Sweet Cherries in Time for 2015 National Cherry Festival

With the National Cherry Festival celebrating all things cherry, some local growers are harvesting their early sweet varieties.

But it's not something that happens every year. 

9&10’s Michelle Dunaway has more details on how important that is for the National Cherry Festival.

"All around the tree you will see some are very dark and others are a lot lighter."

Karen Powers is a research technician with the MSU extension.

Today she's picking different varieties of sweet cherries for testing.

"Test them for different things that are important to the growers, sugar content, flavor, pull force measurements, the amount of cracking that they have."

They grow about 450 different varieties of sweet cherries, and say it was a bit of a surprise that some growers are harvesting in time for the festival that celebrates this fruit.

"I think that we're pretty fortunate his year to have cherries for the Cherry Festival because, if you were around all spring and the lead up to this weekend, it's been very cool, so we thought the harvest would be delayed a little bit longer, but I think we're really lucky to have the early varieties coming on."

That isn't always the case says extension specialist Nikki Rothwell.

"I would say that we probably have about 60-70 percent of the time and then we also have other growers within Michigan that grow sweet cherries, so I know they're not from our backyard, but they are from the Grand Rapids area or the west central area."

For the local growers and the visitors, it's a big deal to be pulling the fruit from our backyard.

And at the MSU Horticultural Research Station, everyone can learn about the business that is the base for the National Cherry Festival.

They are open every day from 10-1 for orchard tours.

"We love pit spits and we love cherry pies, but there's a whole industry that’s behind it and we like to think our research station plays a whole role in how our growers get the crop through the door.”

Categories: National Cherry Festival