Cherries Are Ripe For The Pickin' In The North Fork

Jun 24, 2014

Bing cherries on a branch at Delicious Orchards in Hotchkiss.
Credit Laura Palmisano

The summer fruit harvest season has started in western Colorado. Cherries are usually the first fruit ready for picking in the North Fork Valley.

Jeff Schwartz, the owner of Delicious Orchards in Hotchkiss, said his cherry chop this year is light.

"Five to seven percent of the cherries made it through the spring freeze," he said "The cherries are probably four to five days away from [being ready] to pick.”

Cherry trees at Delicious Orchards.
Credit Laura Palmisano

Schwartz said his one and a half acres of cherry trees can produce up t0 20,000 pounds of fruit. 

He'd consider himself lucky if he was able to harvest 2,000 pounds this year, he said.  

"We are fighting the freeze in early spring and then we have to figure out how to outwit the birds [during harvest time]," Schwartz said. 

After cherries, apricots are the next fruit ready to be harvested in the North Fork Valley. Peaches, nectarines, plums, and pears are harvested in late summer. Apples are ripe in the fall.

Schwartz said his peach crop will also be light this year.

“This winter we lost about 80 percent of our peach crop due to a winter freeze," he said.  

The inside of a ripe Bing cherry.
Credit Laura Palmisano

If you want to buy local produce, farmers markets on the Western Slope are now stocking Colorado-grown cherries.