There was good news and bad news for cherry growers at the second day of the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The good news is that there is a strong market potential for fresh market sweet cherries from consumers who want local fruit, a panel of Michigan cherry growers agreed.
Growing those sweet cherries to size and quality standards to compete with Northwest cherries is still a challenge, but Michigan growers are figuring out how to do it. Some are experimenting with converting processing sweet cherry trees to fresh market production and others are planting new high-density systems with the latest varieties.
“If we can do the job quality-wise, I think we can get that premium on local fruit,” said Justin Finkler, operations manager for Riverridge Produce in Sparta, Michigan. Riverridge plans to plant 40,000 new cherry trees over the next few years.