Harvest ripe cherries
The cherries are fully ripe on the tree. This can be recognized by the fact that the fruits are soft, juicy, fully colored and aromatic. If you do not want to eat or process the cherries right away, you can also harvest not fully ripe fruits.
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However, for immediate consumption one waits until fully ripe, as the cherries increase in both size and quality. For some types of utilization (e.g. rum pot) it makes sense to harvest overripe cherries, as they have the highest sugar content in this state.
The fruits of a tree ripen fairly evenly, but ripening usually extends over 1-2 weeks, so that it is possible to spread the harvest over a longer period of time. The fruits ripen the earliest on the well-exposed outer crown parts. These also provide the largest and most flavorful cherries. Whenever possible, cherries should be picked in the early morning hours and in dry weather while the fruits are still cool.
The harvest time of the cherries is divided into 12 cherry weeks. A cherry week does not consist of seven, but of fifteen days, so a month contains two cherry weeks. The cherry weeks in Germany start on May 1st and end on October 31st. In the six months in between, it is possible to repeatedly harvest different early and late cherry varieties in different regions of Germany.
How is harvested
The cherries can also be harvested without a stem for immediate processing, otherwise they will be picked with a stem to protect the fruit wood. If possible, sour cherries should be harvested with scissors to avoid tearing out the stalks and thus infection with Monilia tip drought. A good, stable ladder is essential when harvesting cherries from the large trees.
Tips & Tricks
The best cherries often grow at unreachable heights. If climbing ladders is too dangerous for you, you can also harvest from the ground with a fruit picker, which is available in stores.