Cold snaps in the middle of May are leading to thinner cherry crops at Lancaster County farms this summer.
Four pick-your-own farms still plan to open fields as early as Friday. Depending on the weather and the crowds, farmers say picking will be available for days this year, not weeks.
Nationwide, both sweet and tart cherry crops are expected to be lower than the past few years. Pennsylvania farms grow many crops but nationwide, Michigan is the biggest cherry producer, followed by Utah and Washington, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Locally, this year’s cherry crops are down because of the mid-May frost. Tart cherries were in bloom during the late frosts and the crop was hit particularly hard. The tart cherry crop at Stauffer’s Fruit Farm, for example, is about half the size of a normal year’s crop, says Mary Brubaker, co-owner of the Denver-area farm. (Story continues below map.)
Because of COVID-19, some pick-your-own farms have new rules.
At Cherry Hill Orchards Outlet, near New Danville, customers are being asked to wear masks around employees and keep their distance from other cherry-pickers. That shouldn’t be too difficult because the farm has about 26 acres of cherry trees, says Ryan Shenk, assistant orchard manager.
Another change will limit check-ins and check-outs to one car at a time, which could lead to longer waits, he says.
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 cherry picking will start Saturday, June 20. Tart cherry picking will start around Monday, June 29. Each crop is expected to last 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, $3.50/lb.; 11-20 pounds for $3/lb. and 21 pounds or more for $2.50/lb.
Kissel Hill Fruit Farm Orchard & Market
Where: 2101 Kissel Hill Road, Lititz.
Season: Tart cherries will be available to pick around Saturday, June 26. 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.
Stauffer’s Fruit Farm
Where: 430 Panorama Dr, Denver.
Season: Sweet will be available for picking Friday, June 19. Tart cherries will be ready around Friday, June 26. Both crops are expected to last less than a week.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Tart cherries are $1.95/pound.
Where: 40 Fruit Lane, Morgantown.
Season: Sweet cherries picking starts around Friday, June 19 and will peak June 24-July 4. Tart cherry picking starts around Saturday, June 20.
Hours: Pick-your-own hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. abd Saturdays, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.