Hood River Cherry Company's Kristoff Fowler Discusses High-Elevation Cherries
HOOD RIVER, OR - For many other shoppers and me, summer wouldn’t be complete without ripe, juicy cherries, and we are in luck as Hood River Cherry Company has its specially grown fruit ready to hit shelves. To get a glimpse of what the season holds, Kristoff Fowler, Field Manager, shared some key details regarding weather and the supplier’s high-elevation growing practices.
“Growing high-elevation cherries is not for the faint of heart. Winters are colder, spring frost can be severe, the season is shorter, and it takes longer to grow a tree,” explains Kristoff. “So, then, why even do it? One reason is the taste! Cherries taste better the further North they grow and higher up the mountain they are planted. The other is that, since they are the very last cherries to ripen in North America, they are available from July until the end of August. When it comes to cherries, Mother Nature saves its best for last.”
As Kristoff mentions, the extreme temperatures can cause challenges when it comes to high-elevation cherry growing, and this season the cold winter inflicted more frost damage than usual. When Hood River’s cherries were in bloom, the spring bees could not pollinate because of the cold; therefore, the supplier is expecting a decrease in volume this year like many other growers in the Pacific Northwest region.
However, even though the weather cut down a portion of Hood River’s cherry crop, consumers and retailers can still count on first-rate flavor.
“Since nights are cooler, sugar levels are higher, and our cherries are crisper—what can I say, the flavor is just enhanced,” adds Kristoff. “When customers bite into a high-elevation cherry that has been tree-ripened and is nearly black, they will know what I’m talking about. Many consumers don’t know a cherry could taste like this.”
Currently, Hood River cherries are still green, with the cold weather in the spring delaying harvest by 10–15 days. But it won’t be long until they are ready for the produce aisle and your shoppers’ baskets, so start getting your displays ready.
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