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Harvest, Post-harvest Handling.

Traditionally, color change and soluble solids content were the most reliable indices. Soluble solids may approach 23% in ripe sweet cherries. However, fruit removal force has been used more recently, and is more reliable. This is measured by a pull gauge, which pulls the fruit from the pedicel. Fruit acid level is important for sour cherries.

Harvest Method:
Sweet and sour cherries intended for processing are shaken from trees when ripe. Ethephon at 400-800 ppm is applied about 2 weeks prior to harvest to reduce fruit removal force, and increase % fruit harvested. Tree trunks are often damaged by shaking equipment, if done incorrectly; trees in rapid growth are more prone to cambial injury. Sweet cherries for fresh consumption are harvested by hand, usually leaving the pedicels intact. They are harvested at firm-mature stage to reduce bruising.

Handling and Packing:
Both sweet and sour cherries have extremely short shelf lives, and must be handled gently to reduce bruising and oxidation. Sour cherries for processing are dumped into cold water immediately following harvest. They are then transported to processing plants, where they are washed, de-stemmed, pitted, and packed for freezing, all within hours from harvest. Sweet cherries are hydrocooled or dumped into cold water by pickers, and packed in shallow flats after being sorted based on color and size, usually the largest being 15/16 inch or higher.

Sweet cherries are usually shipped immediately, since shelf life is <2 weeks. They are subject to the same post-harvest diseases (brown rot, grey mold, blue mold, Rhizopus, alternaria, etc..) as other stone fruits.

Contribution to diet, food uses

Maraschino cherries are made mostly from sweet cherries, but a small proportion of sour cherries are brined for this purpose. Brined cherries are de-colorized with SO2, then steeped in Marasca, a liqueur distilled from the fermented juice of wild cherries.

Dietary value, per 100 gram edible portion:


Water (%) 80
Calories 70
Protein (%) 1.3
Fat (%) 0.3
Carbohydrates (%) 17
Crude Fiber (%) 0.3

% of US RDA*

Vitamin A 2.2
Thiamin, B1 3.6
Riboflavin, B2 3.8
Vitamin C 22.2
Niacin 2.2
Calcium 2.8
Phosphorus 2.4
Iron 4.0
Potassium 4.1
Sodium 0.0


Water (%) 84
Calories 58
Protein (%) 1.2
Fat (%) 0.3
Carbohydrates (%) 14
Crude Fiber (%) 0.3

% of US RDA*

Vitamin A 20
Thiamin, B1 3.6
Riboflavin, B2 3.8
Vitamin C 22.2
Niacin 2.2
Calcium 2.8
Phosphorus 2.4
Iron 4.0
Potassium 4.1
Sodium 0.0

* Percent of recommended daily allowance set by FDA, assuming a 154 lb male adult, 2700 calories per day.

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 King Orchards Copyright 2003 Apple Journal
updated- June 2nd, 2003
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