Where We Grow
Where We Farm our World Famous Cherries
Stemilt’s cherry season is unique because it starts in early May and doesn’t end until early September. It’s the longest cherry season anywhere!
Our cherry season begins in California, where warmer temperatures and lower latitudes bring ripen cherries earlier than other growing places. We grow dark-sweet and Rainier cherries in California’s flat lands across several counties and predominantly in Brentwood, Stockton, and the River/Delta region. California cherries wrap up by mid-June, which is a great gateway into our Washington State cherries!
Our Washington cherries begin growing in the southcentral part of the state in towns like Mattawa and Tri Cities. Cherry harvest wraps up in our high elevation orchards, called Amigos, in early September. These two districts along with the infamous Stemilt Hill and Chelan/Okanogan growing districts all have warm to hot summer days followed by cool nights. The volcanic soils found here are rich with nutrients and the growing regions have access to an abundance of natural water sources. Washington State truly is the best locale in the world to grow cherries!
How We Grow
Four true seasons are a must to grow cherries with World Famous flavors, and that’s what our growing locales provide. Trees are dormant, or in a “sleep” state during the winter, which helps them gear up for the following spring season. A thick blanket of deep snow is always encouraged by cherry growers as it acts as an insulator, protecting our trees from harsh temperatures.
When the snow melts and spring rolls around, we can expect beautiful cherry blossoms popping off the trees. California cherry bloom is first, followed by cherry bloom in Washington. During the spring, orchards are closely monitored by farmers as weather can be one of the biggest challenges to ensure a successful cherry season. By late spring, California cherries are ready for harvest.
As summer ramps up, so does cherry harvest! Starting in late May and early June, cherry harvest begins and becomes the main activity during the summer months. Cherries are harvested daily at sunrise and each cherry is hand-picked! Then, we pack and ship cherries as fast as we can to a store near you.
After harvest wraps up in September and the weather cools down, the cherries can rest once more and recover from harvest. They shed their leaves and enter that dormant stage once temperatures drop. Fourth generation cherry grower, Kyle Mathison, applies his World Famous compost in the late fall to ensure the nutrients are available to trees when the growing season returns.
Once cherries are plucked from the tree, it’s a race against time to get them to you. Cherries are uber perishable after all! We hydrocool cherries within hours of harvest (usually right at the farm) to ignite the cold chain that maintains their freshness. Then it’s time to pack cherries!
Cherries move along the packing line via channels of cold water. They are picked in clusters, which are cut by a machine into single cherries. Then, our super-smart electronic sizer and sorter takes multiple images of each cherry to properly sort it by its color, sugar levels, firmness, and much more. We give cherries a final inspection before they make it into bags or clamshells and the final carton.
Right before shipping, we cool cherries with jet-powered fans to a chilly 34 degree Fahrenheit temperature that keeps that cold chain tight. From farm to truck, the whole process to harvest, pack, and ship cherries moves at a quick pace to ensure you enjoy the freshest cherries.