Cherry orchards reap sweet rewards

Cherries photo from the Pacific Northwest extension publication.

Did you know that February was declared National Cherry Month, even though these tasty fruits don’t ripen until June and July in Washington State? Monday, February 17, is President’s Day, and we tip our hats to our great national leaders… even the one that is said to have chopped down a cherry tree with his trusty hatchet.

But George Washington wouldn’t have chopped down a cherry tree on state trust lands in eastern Washington. He would have loved that these cherries help build our state’s public schools and help us educate future leaders.

So just how ‘sweet’ are cherries on trust lands?
In 2013, Washington DNR leased more than 891 acres of state trust lands to private landowners for growing cherry trees. And those sweet cherry trees earned $365,000 in revenue for schools with the per-acre average of $410. That’s sweet! Cherries are a small but significant part of the irrigated agriculture program, which includes wine grapes, other fruit trees and row crops. DNR’s agriculture and grazing programs brought in $20.5 million last year.

The right cherry for the right place
Although one of the top varieties of cherries on state trust land is the ever popular Bing, there also were varieties specially bred at the Washington State University research center for areas of eastern Washington—with names such as Chelan, Benton, and the long-popular Rainier.

Cherries on state trust lands ripen from mid-June to the end of July.

  • Bing (June 30-July 5)
  • Rainier (July 5-10)
  • Benton (July 5-10)
  • Chelan (June 15-20)
  • Lapins (July 10-15)
  • Van (July 5-10)
  • Sweetheart (July 20-30)

It’s only a couple of months until Washington’s sweet cherry season will be here.

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