About Royal Farms
The Cherry Store
All About Cherries
The leading producer of tart cherries is Michigan, producing 70 to 75
percent of the crop each year. Utah grows about 8 percent of the crop,
New York, about 5 percent, Wisconsin, 4 percent. Washington, Oregon and
Pennsylvania also have commercial crops of tart cherries. The amount of
tart cherries produced each year varies, depending on a number of
factors, including the age of the trees and weather conditions.
Generally, Michigan produces 200 to 250 million pounds of tart
cherries; the U.S. crop is 275 to 350 million pounds.
The major variety of tart cherry grown in the United States is
the Montmorency. It has been cultivated in the United States for more
than a century because the fruit is excellent for pies, preserves,
jellies, juice and other products.
Tart cherries, which are sometimes called pie cherries or sour
cherries, are seldom sold fresh; they generally are canned or frozen
shortly after harvesting for use in products throughout the year.
Sweet cherries primarily are grown in the Pacific Coast
states, but Michigan joins the top four producers, harvesting about 20
percent of the crop each year. Michigan produces about 50 million
pounds of sweet cherries. The total U.S. production of sweet cherries
is about 370 million pounds; about 175 million pounds of that is
processed and packed as frozen or canned sweet cherries or as
maraschino or glacé cherries.
The most famous sweet cherry variety is the Bing cherry.
However, there are more than 1,000 varieties of sweet cherries. Bing
cherries are a dark red/burgundy color. There also are light sweet
cherry varieties, such as Rainier and Queen Anne.
Although a cherry tree can grow almost anywhere, the quantity
and quality of its fruit depends on specific climatic conditions. For
example, in Michigan, the orchards are concentrated along Lake
Michigan, where the lake tempers the winter winds and cools the
orchards in summer.
Both tart and sweet cherries ripen in July; the third week of July is usually the peak of the harvest.
There are about 7,000 cherries on an average tart cherry tree
(the number varies depending on the age of the tree, weather and
growing conditions), and it takes about 250 cherries to make a cherry
pie, so each tree potentially could produce enough cherries for 28
February is National Cherry Month. Consumers are eager to buy
cherry products in February to help celebrate a variety of special days
during the month, including Presidents' Day, Valentine's Day and Paczki
Day, (Fat Tuesday).
The average U.S. citizen consumes about one pound of tart cherries per year. That is more than 260 million pounds per year.
According to research conducted at the
University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, and Institut
für Zoologie und Anthropologie, Universität Göttingen, Göttingen,
1 Burkhardt, S., Tan, D., Manchester, L., Hardeland, R. and Reiter, R. Detection and Quantifi cation of the
Antioxidant Melatonin in Montmorency and Balaton Tart Cherries. Journal of Agriculture and Food
Chemistry 2001, Volume 49, Number 10, Pages 4898-4902.
- Scientists have discovered high levels (3.5 ng/g) of the antioxidant melatonin in Montmorency tart cherries.
- Melatonin, which is
produced naturally by the body’s pineal gland, is a potent free radical
scavenger and broad-spectrum antioxidant that also helps regulate the
- The aging process and other factors reduce the amount of melatonin that the body produces.
- Researchers determined
that the consumption of Montmorency tart cherries can significantly
increase the level of melatonin in the body.
- The increased level of
melatonin can improve the body’s ability to destroy free radicals, slow
the aging process and improve sleep.
- In addition to its antioxidative properties, melatonin has been shown to possess antiinflammatory properties.