Cherry Season

Courtesy of Stemilt Growers

There are some fruits that never disappear from store shelves. Year round you can find apples, oranges, peaches, bananas, etc. However that cannot be said for cherries. Cherries are only available for a limited time during the year. So if you want to enjoy some, it’s important to know when they are in season. To give you a better understanding of how the season unfolds, I will talk about how one company, Stemilt, extends the season. Stemilt is located in Washington, but they work with farms all the way down to southern California.

Cherry Season

Courtesy of Stemilt Growers

The harvest begins in southern California, in Bakersfield. This usually begins around the end of April. The earliest cherry variety is the Brooks cherry, which is a cross between a Rainier and a Bing. From there, the harvest moves north to the Stockton/Modesto area. By early June, the harvest comes to an end in California. At this time, the cherries in Washington will be ready. They start in the Pasco/Mattawa area and move north to Chelan, Okanagan, and Wenatchee. They are also able to harvest cherries in higher eleavtion all the way into late August (read more about high elevation cherries in my post Are Cherries Out of Season?.)

Cherry Season

Courtesy of Stemilt Growers

They harvest cherries as high as 3,500 feet. So by moving from south to north, Stemilt is able to harvest cherries from late April to late August.

Now, the difficult thing with cherries is that they are very perishable. This is why by September, cherries will have pretty much disappeared from stores until the next year.

Cherry Season

Courtesy of Stemilt Growers

The next question is: how long from harvest until the cherries hit the supermarkets? Since they are perishable, Stemilt aims to get their cherries from the farm to the truck within a day or two. And then it takes anywhere from 1-2 days for close by locations to up to 5-7 days for the cherries to make it the east coast. They use a cold chain process to keep the cherries as fresh as possible.

Even though the harvest last for 4 months, there are peaks in the season. The California cherries peak at the end of May/beginning of June. Prices tend to be higher for the California cherries (learn more from my post – When Will The Prices of Cherries Get Cheaper?) The Washington cherries peak in early July.
There are several different varieties of cherries that Stemilt grows. They can be broken into dark/sweet cherries and Rainer cherries. There are several varieties of dark cherries but it’s up to the grocery whether they advertise the different varieties. Most stores I have encountered just sell them as sweet cherries with the expection of the Bing cherries. The differences between these cherries are subtle. The variations are usually in color, firmness, the sugar to acid ratio.

Rainier Cherry Season Ad

While the Pacific states are the nation’s biggest cherries growers, other areas of the country also grow cherries. In fact, pretty much all the sour or pie cherries grown in the US commercially are grown in Michigan. These cherries are typically ready around the fourth of July and the harvest can last until the end of the month. Traverse City, Michigan is host to an annual National Cherry Festival.

If you are into eating the best each season has to offer before you leave the site today, check out my e-book series [Eat Like No One Else] This… to find all the best information on what’s best each season, in an easy to read and very affordable package.


Leave a Comment

Comments for This Post

  1. Ally April 2, 2012, 10:34 am

    Thanks for the article and explanation. It makes complete sense that the season varies in different parts of the country/world……it’s just that it didn’t dawn on me until I read this!

  2. admin April 2, 2012, 11:46 am

    I am glad you liked it and found it informative.

  3. Guy June 1, 2012, 9:17 pm

    Hee hee, I live in Modesto and there is a Cherry Tree in my backyard. 😛

  4. janice funderburk April 9, 2015, 7:52 pm

    Now it’s clear to me, I never knew for sure when and cherries were only available for such a short period. Thank you for explaining it. I love cherries so, I just want them all year.

  5. Eric Samuelson April 11, 2015, 7:50 am

    I am glad you found this post informative. Cherries aren’t like apples or oranges that can be keep in cold storage, they just don’t last. Enjoy them when they come into season, which should be in about 6 weeks or so from now.

  6. pat May 2, 2015, 11:07 pm

    I love cherries and the information I read on when they are in season and when I can purchase them has been very helpful.

  7. Brian Patrick May May 20, 2015, 6:07 pm

    I would like to know how much longer will it be before the dark cherries from washington will be arriving in grocery stores in North Carolina

  8. Eric Samuelson May 20, 2015, 9:43 pm

    I heard the crop was running 2 weeks early this year, so I would expect to see them no later than mid June.

  9. Teddy Mendez February 23, 2016, 12:34 am

    This my favorite fruit since I was a child in NYC. I move over to Puerto Rico and you never find them here. And with luck on august only and very, very expensive. I pay for it because is my fruit and I enjoy it. I fly to Orlando,Fl and buy them in large quantity

    Regards Teddy

Eric Profile Transparent Background


I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.

Sign up for weekly e-mail updates from Eat Like No One Else



Featured On:

my foodgawker gallery


FOTL Tablet Image