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    Cherries Have Arrived Right on Schedule!

    By Debra Morris–

    We’re jumping for joy this year because farmers are telling us that California’s sweet cherries have arrived right on schedule! Last year they had to be harvested two to three weeks late because of the heavy rain and wind we received. The rain and wind came—and continued—at a time when the cherry blossoms were just setting their fruit and they were unceremoniously knocked off the trees! The yield was less and the season was shorter than usual.

    This year, farmers tell us they are looking forward to a good yield, sweeter cherries, and an abundance of fruit through the growing and harvesting season, about two to three months. This winter brought the perfect number of chill hours. (Cherry trees need a number of cold hours between 32°F and 45°F for fruit tree or nut tree flowering and fruit production each year.) They say there’s been plenty of rain and sun mix, dry days interspersed with wet, to allow for the trees to produce loads of fruit.

    Missy Gotelli of Gotelli Farms has a crop that arrived the first week in May, right on time. The trees look good and are heavy with blossoms and fruit. Before the harvest she said, “Can’t wait for cherry season! It’s like our annual reunion at the farmers markets—catching up with familiar faces, sharing stories, and, of course, seeing everyone’s face light up when they see Gotelli Farms Cherries!”

    Another cherry grower, Guy Allard of Allard Farms, began his harvest at the end of April. Allard said, “The crop looks good, decent yield, and larger fruit.” He said ground water is better, giving tree roots a chance to grow deeper. His farm in Westley in the Central Valley is about 100 acres. Since 1909 they have been farming a variety of fruit and nut crops. His Champagne, Brooks, and Coral varieties are already in markets.

    Harvesting a good crop of cherries depends on many factors, from good soil and good care to rain and sunshine. This year looks to be a great one, thanks to Mother Nature’s cooperation. Cherry farmers are ready for another season with the best fruit they can grow. Stop by your farmers’ market this May and June and enjoy some of California’s best sweet cherries. 

    You’ll find cherries at the Castro Farmers’ Market from Allard Farms in Westley, Arata Fruit from Byron, and Gotelli Farms from Stockton.

    Cherry Arugula Salad

    1/3 pound fresh cherries, pitted  
    1/2 pound baby or wild arugula  
    2 ounces of feta, crumbled  
    1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted  
    4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil  
    3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar  
    Flaky coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper      

    Toast pecans in a dry pan for 5 minutes. Cut the cherries in half lengthwise and place them in a large serving bowl. Add the arugula, cheese, and pecans. Drizzle with the oil and vinegar, add a few generous pinches of salt over the top, and season with pepper. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. 

    Debra Morris is a spokesperson for the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association. For more information and recipes:

    This Month at the Farmers’ Market
    Published on May 9, 2024