Fruit growers gear up for heat wave as cherry harvest begins

Jun 26, 2018, 6:49 PM | Updated: 9:22 pm

SANTAQUIN, Utah – Fruit growers in the Beehive State have started to harvest their sweet cherries.

Farmers said they expected a lighter, sweet cherry crop because of a late spring frost, but there was a bumper tart cherry crop and other late season fruit. Peaches and apples were also looking good in Santaquin.

“We grow tart cherries, apples, peaches and sweet cherries,” said Thad Rowley of his family’s orchard.

Sweet cherries should be picked when it is the coolest time of the day, just as the sun begins to rise, early in the morning.

The Rowley’s biggest crop is tart cherries, used for baking, and also dried to add to many health foods, They were just a couple of weeks from being harvested.

“[The] quality looks good. [The] quality looks really good,” he added.

What was not looking good this year, is the water situation.

“Drought wise, water wise – it is a tough year, water is in short supply,” he added.

With little run-off still coming from the mountains, the Rowleys have been fortunate to have well water to supplement irrigation for their trees that rely on frequent water, to help their produce grow.

“As you look at the fruit on the tree, it is like little balls of water, and you are trying to grow those little fruits and they need water,” he said.

Once the tart cherries are harvested over the next few weeks, the growers will start gearing up for the peaches and apples to become ripe.

“Apples look really nice, nice crop of apples,” Rowley said.

The Rowleys have been part of the Mountainland apple coop, which includes other local fruit growers. They sell to grocery stores and markets throughout Utah and even neighboring states.

They also operate their Red Barn in Santaquin, selling fresh fruit directly to consumers. The peaches were expected to be ripe in late August and then the varieties of apples will start showing up in the fruit stands throughout the month of September.

“A lot of people like to know where their fruit comes from. They like to know the grower, so that is one of the draws we have to our fruit stand,” Rowley added.

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Fruit growers gear up for heat wave as cherry harvest begins