Spring arrived early in Washington this year, which made for an early bloom on our cherry trees throughout the state. This blog post shares scenes from cherry bloom (so far) and gives you a taste of the sweet Stemilt cherries that will come this summer!
The first cherry trees in Washington State bloom in the Tri Cities and Mattawa areas. The combination of southern latitudes and early ripening varieties makes the trees in these locales first. The photo above was taken on a sunny Sunday morning in Mattawa, where cherry trees were blooming about three weeks earlier than the historical normal.
In another block at the same orchard, you can see cherry blossoms just starting to open up. Most farmers grow multiple varieties that ripen at different times in order to make for a more manageable harvest, since every cherry is hand-picked from each tree!
Most cherry varieties need to be pollinated by bees during bloom time in order to grow into delicious fruits. Here, you see our favorite orchard assistant during the spring season pollinating a cherry blossom. Growers rent beehives and deploy bees for several days during bloom in order to ensure a good crop is set. Without bees, we wouldn’t have sweet cherries!
Once pollinated, the blossom, or flower, dries up and a small green fruit comes out of its center, in a process called “splitting the shuck”. Leaves replace the dried up blossoms and each cherry begins an important stage of growth, where it will grow in size and change in color (green-yellow to pink and finally red) before it is ripe and ready to be harvested. This season, the early bloom means that we start harvesting cherries in Washington earlier than normal and most likely by the end of May.
Stay tuned…Stemilt cherries are coming soon!