With their ruby-red colour and delicious flavour, these small red fruits have been appreciated since ancient times. The history of cherries dates back hundreds of centuries, as their tasty fruits found their way onto the tables of Roman conquerors, Greek citizens and Chinese Noblemen. Before arriving centuries later in America in the 1600s with early settlers arriving by ship.
Where did cherries originate from?
Sweet cherries originated in Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, which is a large peninsula in Western Asia. They were found in the fertile areas between the Black and Caspian seas and were likely brought to Europe by birds.
The Greeks were the first to cultivate growing cherries and the Romans continued to increase and expand on that. Cherries were first mentioned in the 3rd Century B.C in a book called the History of Plants. This book was written by Theophrastus, an early botanist and protégé of Aristotle. Within this book, cherries are mentioned to have been known to the Greeks and cultivated by them for hundreds of centuries.
When did cherries arrive in America?
Cherries didn’t arrive in the United States until the 17th century, when they were brought along by English colonists in 1629. The production of modern day cherries that we know and love today began in the mid- 1800s.
The History of Tart Cherries in America
In 1852, Peter Dougherty, a Presbyterian missionary who was living in northern Michigan planted the first Montmorency tart cherry in orchards on Old Mission Peninsula. This came as a shock to the other farmers and Indians who lived in the area. But much to their surprise, Dougherty’s cherries flourished and soon the other residents followed suit. Only 40 years later, the first commercial cherry orchards were planted in Michigan on Ridgewood Farm. Not too far from the Dougherty’s original planting site.
This area of America had proven itself to be an ideal place for growing cherries thanks to Lake Michigan. The glaciers left this region surrounded by fresh water bays, rolling hills of sandy soil and gentle breezes to protect the crops from frost in this unique microclimate.
By the early 1900s the cherry industry was firmly established in this state and the production surpassed other major crops in the area. With the most popular variety of cherry being the tart Montmorency. This variety of cherry is still used today and is excellent for pies, preserves and juice.
The History of Sweet Cherries in America
Sweet cherry orchards also came into production in the 1800s, primarily in the northwestern part of the United States were where these fruits flourished the most. In 1847, Henderson Lewellings planted an orchard in western Oregon using nursery stock that he had transported by an ox cart from Iowa. This orchard at Lewellings Farm became known for its sweet cherries.
With the most famous sweet cherry variety coming from this farm, the Bing Cherry. The name of this cherry came from one of the Lewelling’s Chinese workmen. In later years the Rainier Cherry variety, was cross bred with the Bing and Van varieties by Dr. Harold W. Fogle at Washington State University Research Station. Today, the Bing, Lambert and Rainier varieties account for more than 95 percent of the Northwest sweet cherry production in America.
When did cherries arrive in California?
After their arrival in America in the 17th century, cherries were introduced a bit later to California by Spanish missionaries. In the 1800s, sweet cherries were moved west across America by pioneers and fur traders. Before arriving at their major sites of production in Washington, Oregon and California.
Today, California is the second largest cherry producing state in the U.S with nearly 60,000 tons of fresh sweet cherries being produced annually. With the harvest season beginning in mid-April and concluding in mid-June. In total the U.S cherry industry produced more than 650 million pounds of tart and sweet cherries each year.
The History of Growing Cherries at Blooms
Cherries Blooms Cherries have a long history of growing these tasty fruits from humble beginnings in Italy, as the family crossed the Atlantic and planted roots in the United States, first settling in Massachusetts.
During the elder Chinchiolo's time on the East Coast, he worked hard to establish the family as a broker and seller of fruits for export. In addition to exporting the produce, the family saw the beauty in farming the supply and, after a few short years in Massachusetts, moved again to settle in the Central Valley of California known for its excellent farming conditions.
Four generations later, our family is still farming in the heart of California's Central Valley, providing the highest quality and most premium cherries in the country. To learn more about the history of Blooms orchard and our family heritage click the button below -
For us, the ultimate celebration of cherries is when cherry season finally arrives and we can harvest these delicious fruits! As well as hosting our annual ‘pick your own cherries’ event! Where visitors from across California and beyond get the opportunity to experience picking their own cherries on the farm, straight from our trees.
As the months count down until cherry season, why not take a look at how our cherries have been growing over these Winter months, by reading our latest Orchard Report.