We got over 1 3/4 inches of rain last night, a good soaker. (It didn’t all come at once, but rained steadily so most of it soaked into the ground instead of running off.) All the crops EXCEPT sweet cherries will really benefit from that rain, as it was getting pretty dry around here (except, of course, where we have drip irrigation). Dave wryly comments that the reason he grows sweet cherries is to ensure that we get rain during this season.
Sweet cherries have an interesting characteristic when they are rained on–depending upon the amount of rain, the temperature, the length of time the cherries are wet, and the development of the fruit–they can only absorb so much moisture before the skin splits open. These “cracks” are cosmetically devastating to what was a beautiful piece of fruit. While my dad always preferred to eat cracked cherries (they tend to be sweeter than undamaged fruit), consumers aren’t looking to purchase them.
We don’t know yet what last night’s rain will do to our sweet cherry crop, most of which is still hanging on the trees. The weather is cool, which is in our favor, and it is breezy, which will help dry the fruit. By tonight, we should have a pretty good idea how the different varieties weathered the rain.
We used to grow a certain variety of black sweet cherry, Somerset, and loved its crunch, size, and flavor. The only problem was with cracking–and it was a big one. Some years we had to throw out 80 to 90 percent of the fruit that we picked, just to get a decent looking quart on the counter. That is not only cost-prohibitive, it is very dispiriting to spend time caring for the trees and the crop, only to lose money at the end. We finally pushed out the Somerset orchard, not without a certain sadness for what might have been. But living in Michigan has so many more benefits that we can deal with the weather–after all, if you don’t like it today, it’s sure to be different tomorrow!