Cherry harvesting time at Mansfields!
The 2007 harvest began a week earlier than usual. The traditional cherry picking in Kent has changed, the modern commercial cherry orchards against traditional are easier to pick, trees are kept smaller and here at Mansfields we grow them in 2 and 3 row beds, with some of our cherries having rain covers and anti- bird protection.
The cherry season is short, usually up to 4 weeks but is very dynamic, and as proven this year, quite challenging as well. There are a lot of preharvest and postharvest factors that can affect the quality of the cherries. Overall the cherries are very delicate product and Dr. Max Patterson, Professor and Horticulturist at Washington State University, has defined them as:
1. A bag of water, air, and organic chemicals
2. A series of compartments within compartments, individually packaged in a larger master package
3. A fragile, living entity at the cellular level as complex as human life; while at attached to the tree, nourished by the tree; but when detached, must live off of itself at the mercy of the environment.
The final definition implies the fragile nature of a cherry and the challenge facing today’s production. It is critical to harvest during the cooler periods of the day, when the cherries are cooler, and to keep them in the shade once they are harvested. The cherries are picked when firm and when have reached full maturity and colour as they will not ripen off the tree. After being picked it is crucial for the cherries to be held in temperature controlled environment. They are being transported to the packhouse in temperature controlled vehicles and held in humidified chilled air to minimize the vapor pressure difference between the fruit and the external air- warmer cherries lose water much more quickly than cooler cherries!
The selection and packing of the cherries is also done in temperature control environment and the completed product is sent out within 48 hours of being picked.
Our aim is to deliver to the customer a farm-fresh fruit, which are just naturally more delicious and nutritious!
posted Thursday, July 12, 2007