Cherries are produced by cherry growers all over the world. The species of cherry commonly found in our grocery stores are cultivated forms of the wild cherry. Wild cherries have been found through most of Europe since prehistoric times, but the first incidence of a cultivated cherry was recorded in 72 BC when they were brought to Rome from the region now known as Turkey.
Around 40% of cherry cultivation takes place in Europe, and Turkey is the largest cherry producing nation. The next largest producer is the United States. Around 13% of cherry production originates from the U.S. Other big cherry producing nations include Iran, Italy, and Russia.
In the United States, 70% of all cherry production takes place in just four states: Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Utah.
The majority of sweet cherry production takes place in California, Oregon, Washington, and Northern Michigan. Cherry varieties grown in these states include the popular Bing cherry, plus Tulare, King, and Rainier cherries. Lambert varieties of cherries are grown in Montana. Royal Ann cherries, sometimes known as Napoleon or Queen Ann, are used to make maraschino cherries and are cultivated in Oregon and Michigan.
The majority of sour cherries are cultivated in Michigan, Utah, New York, and Washington. Varieties of sour cherries include Nanking and Evans Cherry. Other varieties of cherries are grown in Ontario, Canada, as well as British Columbia.
In the United States, Michigan refers to itself as the Cherry Capital of the World and every year they hold a National Cherry Festival to celebrate. In Australia, the town of Young in New South Wales is known as the Cherry Capital of Australia and every year, it also hosts the world famous National Cherry Festival.
Many cherry growers are members of co-operatives and they work together to ensure only the best quality fruit is used in production processes. The cherry growers also work together to increase profitability, help educate the public about the health benefits of cherries, plus promote research and development of the cherry growing industry.
Cherry farmers in Europe are also working together to increase the public recognition of their cherry varieties. Spanish cherry cultivators in particular have seen a rise in their market share as a result of forming cherry growing co-operatives to market their cherries.
Unfortunately, traditional areas of cherry production may well see changes over the next few decades as climate change begins to affect the crops. Growers in Michigan, one of the main centers of cherry cultivation in the United States have already begun to report the changes. With State’s average temperature around 2 degrees warmer than it was thirty years ago, cherry blossoms are appearing around 7-10 days earlier than usual, which can leave the plants susceptible to damaging spring frosts.
Researchers are working hard to formulate long term predictions as to how climate change is likely to affect cherry cultivation over the next few decades. One thing is certain, as the world slowly and inexorably warms, cherry growers are likely to see a decline in the profitability of their crops, which will in turn cause a rise in the retail prices of the world’s most popular fruit.
If you are a cherry lover you may want to read our article on cherries health benefits. You will be happy to find cherries not only taste great but are one of the most healthy fruits you can eat