Cherry Packing Goes Digital


To me, there’s nothing more exciting than entering a cherry packing room during the peak of cherry harvest. Fresh off the tree, clusters of Stemilt cherries make their way from a harvest bin to a finished box all day and night long, and in no time at all! Hard-working employees are busy scrutinizing the quality of the fruit coming down the line, filling bags and boxes, and doing all that they can in order to help deliver World Famous cherries to your stores. It’s incredible to see, and thanks to new digital technology, it’s a process that is being revolutionized at Stemilt as I type!

Last year, we unveiled a high-tech cherry packing line at our Euclid Street facility in Wenatchee, WA that electronically sizes and sorts cherries. The first-of-its-kind in Washington State, this line was a big deal, as it moved away from always sorting cherries manually, and instead relied on computers to do the bulk of the sizing and sorting jobs. I’m probably spoiling the rest of this post, but the technology proved to be so valuable that our company invested heavily in it for it in the off-season. We added 40 lanes of electronic sizing at our Stockton, CA facility in May, and will soon open a second, 20-lane line at the same Washington facility that holds last year’s addition. Digital cherry packing has arrived at Stemilt and in a big way.

So, how does this technology work and why is it such a big deal? As cherries enter the digital (also known as optical) sizer and grader, high-speed cameras take a series of pictures of the fruit and then send the data to a computer where each piece of fruit is analyzed and then kicked to the appropriate packing lane based on its size, color, and qualities. The whole process takes less than a second!

Fascinating as it is, the most impressive thing this technology provides – and its real benefit – is accuracy. Using digital technology, we’re able to deliver Stemilt cherries with consistent size and qualities in a finished pack better than ever before. A revolutionary technology that makes us more equipped to reach our goal of delivering World Famous Cherries to stores for people everywhere to enjoy.

Cherry season is officially underway for Stemilt in Washington State, and we couldn’t be more excited. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences with Stemilt cherries this summer, and hope you enjoyed this look into the technology that helps us get the best cherries to you!