Last week’s rain may have put a damper on Lancaster County’s sweet cherry crop but there are still cherries to be found at least two pick-your-own orchards. The tart cherry crop, which is not as susceptible to cracking, is just starting. Picking should continue for sour cherries through the end of June.
Pennsylvania is a top producer for many crops but nationwide, Michigan is the biggest cherry producer, followed by Utah and Washington, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Last year, local cherry crops were delayed by the cool spring. This year’s cherries are on time or a little early because of the warm days in May.
The sweet cherry crop was short for most orchards offering pick-your-own cherries.
Kissel Hill Fruit Farm Orchard near Lititz did not open sweet cherry fields for picking this year due to a light crop.
Spring rains caused many of the sweet cherries at Stauffer’s Fruit Farm in Denver to crack, says co-owner Mary Brubaker. The small crop was picked over a few days but Brubaker sees a silver lining to what she calls a crop failure.
“I think the birds will get a treat,” she says. (Story continues below map.)
At Cherry Hill Orchards Outlet, near New Danville, the sweet cherry trees were open for picking Thursday. Usually the sweet cherries last a week to a week and a half, says manager Ryan Shenk, however, crowds Saturday picked a record amount of cherries.
One farm fared better thanks to having four acres of sweet cherries under high tunnels.
Weaver’s Orchard in Morgantown started opening sweet cherry picking Friday and will have sweet cherries through approximately July 4, says Ed Weaver, company president. The trees in tunnels were protected from the rain, which can cause sweet cherries to crack.
Tart cherry crops weren’t as hard hit by the rainy spring.
The earliest tart cherries, Jubileum cherries, are ready this week at Weaver’s. The Montmorency tart cherries should be available Saturday. The crop should last for about a week, Weaver says.
At Cherry Hill, tart cherries should be ready by this weekend, Shenk says. The farm usually offers picking for about a week, depending on the weather.
Here are more details about where to pick your own cherries in the Lancaster County region. Dates depend on the weather and crowds, so if you plan to go to a farm, call ahead to make sure the fruit's ready or still available.
Cherry Hill Orchards Outlet
Where: 400 Long Lane, Lancaster.
Season: Sweet cherries are available and should last through June 21. Sour cherries will start around June 21 and last for about a week.
Hours: Pick-your-own hours are Monday-Friday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 7 a .m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Up to 10 pounds, $3 a pound; over 10 pounds, $2.50 a pound.
Kissel Hill Fruit Farm Orchard & Market
Where: 2101 Kissel Hill Road, Lititz.
Season: Tart cherries will be available to pick around June 20. Sweet cherries will not be available for pick-your-own this year due to low supply.
Hours: Pick-your-own hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Pick-your-own tart cherries will be $1.50/lb.
Stauffer’s Fruit Farm
Where: 430 Panorama Dr, Denver.
Season: Sweet cherries are finished for the season. Tart cherries will be ready around the last week of June.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Sour cherries are $1.39/pound.
Where: 40 Fruit Lane, Morgantown.
Season: Sweet cherries are available and will peak July 4. Tart cherries are available through around June 29.
Hours: Pick-your-own hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Saturdays, 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Cost: To pick fruit, a wrist band is needed (free Monday-Friday, $2 each on Saturdays. Sweet cherries are $4.99/pound; $3.99/pound for 10 pounds and more or $2.99 for 50 pounds or more. Tart cherries are $3.99/pound; $2.99/pound for 10-29 pounds or $2.75/pound for more than 30 pounds. Semi-sweet Jubileum cherries are $4.99/lb.