The cherry is a popular American desert fruit, whether raw or in its processed form. When commercially grown by cherry producers, there are two main cherry varieties of importance: sweet cherries and sour cherries. Sweet cherries are commonly eaten directly from the tree while sour cherries are found in various processed forms such as jams, cherry preserves and desert toppings. When compared to sweet cherries, tart cherries have a deep flavor which make them more useful in a number of food processing applications.
Cherries have flooded the news and media for a number of health benefits. There are many reports which indicate that cherries have useful antioxidant properties which might help ease the inflammation associated with diseases such as arthritis and gout. Moreover, cherries are believed to help with other problems such as cardiovascular heart disease. With all these health benefits, you may be wondering which country is responsible for providing the world’s cherry supply. Here’s a brief look at the top cherry producers in the world.
Cherries were initially brought to the North American region by English settlers. The sour cherry variety became quite popular in the Great Lakes region thanks to the humid, moderate conditions which favored the growth of this particular cherry variety. As of 2009, the United States was the second highest cherry producer closely following Turkey. Turkey had a yield of approximately 418 thousand metric tons while the United States had a yield of about 391 thousand metric tons. The continent with the most cherry producers was Europe (40%), followed by North America which accounts for roughly 13% of the world’s cherry supply.
Rounding off the top cherry producers of the world were Iran, Italy and Syria which produced approximately 225, 117 and 96.5 thousand metric tons of cherries in 2009. Taken individually, statistics show that majority of the sour cherry producers are located within Europe as is the case for sweet cherry producers.
Russia, Ukraine and Turkey were the top three sour cherry producers in 2009 having produced 235, 178 and 140 thousand metric tons of sour cherries in that year. The United States was ranked sixth, behind Poland and Serbia producing only 98,000 sour cherries commercially.
The top three sweet cherry producers as of 2009 were Iran, Turkey and the United States. Iran and Turkey each produced approximately 12,000 metric tons of sweet cherries while the United States had produced roughly 9,000 metric tons.
In the United States, the leading sour cherry producing region is Michigan which is notable for producing well over half of the USA’s sour cherry crop each year. The main tart cherry grown in the region is the Montmorency cherry which has been grown in the area for more than a century. The state of Washington is the top sweet cherry producer.
Because of weather conditions cherry production dropped in 2010 but made a comeback in 2011. However, even with the improved 2011 crop cherry producers weren’t quiet to their 2009 level. For readers from the U.S. remember the above figures are metric tons and not short tons.