Three things we focus on during cherry harvest are picking fruit early in the morning, getting cherries to our packing operation quickly, and ensuring the fruit stays fresh for our loyal customers. Cherry harvest lasts for around 6 weeks and during this time we pick roughly 3 million pounds of sweet, juicy cherries. This equals to 135 million individual fruits. We grow 11 different varieties of cherries and change our picking process depending on what type we are working with.
Cherry Picking Process
In July, our popular Dark Sweet Cherries will be picked leaving the stem on. Each team of pickers requires 1 dedicated quality control person, 1 crew manager and an additional 20 cherry pickers. The crew manager oversees what rows are picked and what blocks to move onto next. He or she also governs the quality of the pick. When a worker fills up their 18 lb bucket, they bring their pick to a central location where their badge is scanned and credit is given to the picker. A really good picker can make more than $200 per day harvesting cherries.
Three Tips to Cherry Harvest
We have three tips to ensure our cherry harvest is a success.
- First, we strive to get the cherries picked early in the morning while it is still cool and the fruit is crisp. We want to pick as quickly as possible before any potential rain comes which can destroy a crop. 2018 has been superb with weather, we haven’t seen a nicer harvest season in a while!
- Second, we ship our cherries out the same day to ensure freshness of the crop. We deliver the fruit to our packing operation as quickly as possible. For every hour cherries are left sitting in the field, the more they internally break down. Our cherries are all sent with free 2-day shipping, getting them to your door just two days after we pick them.
- Lastly, once the cherries are delivered we highly recommend putting them straight into the refrigerator to cool them down before consumption. Cherries do best when kept in cool conditions.
Why We Love Cherry Season
We love cherry harvest, as it’s one of the funnest times of the year! Our team works diligently to provide a healthy crop and it’s great to see the outcome. Being a part of the complete cycle of planting, growing, harvesting and then enjoying the wonderful tastes and nourishment that our fruits provide is so rewarding.
Scott Webster is President & CEO of both Webster Orchards, Inc and TheFruitCompany.com. Webster Orchards has been growing premium fresh fruit in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area since 1942, starting with Scott’s grandfather Roy Webster. The Fruit Company, an online gift retailer has been packing and shipping beautiful fruit gifts nationwide since 1999. Both headquarters are located in the Hood River Valley, nestled between Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge.