Which US State Produces The Most Cherries?

Have you ever thought about where those juicy, tart cherries you love actually come from? I mean, as long as they taste good, right? Well, that tasty little fruit actually demands specific growing conditions to acquire its tart, sweet flavor, and vibrant crimson flesh.

According to Britannica, there are different varieties of the stemmed fruit. Sour cherries are frozen or canned; this variety weaves its way into cherry pastries and rich sauces. In contrast, the sweet cherries are generally eaten fresh and are preserved in maraschino liqueur, both authentic and imitation varieties. Some cherries are grown for their beautiful flowers, and the dark cherry wood from the tree is used in furniture.

Most species, according to Britannica, are native to the Northern Hemisphere, where ten to 12 species are recognized in North America and Europe. National Cherry Festival teaches us that the early settlers brought cherries to America in the 1600s, and modern cherry production began in the mid-1800s. This fact means that Americans have been enjoying the sweet/tart flavor of the cherry fruit for hundreds of years.

Michigan for the win

The red-stemmed fruit was first planted in Michigan state in 1852 by Peter Dougherty, according to National Cherry Festival. The cherry trees grew beautifully, and soon other people were cultivating their own cherry trees. The weather near Lake Michigan proved perfect for growing cherry trees due to the lake's effect on Arctic winds and the summer heat. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, the state produces 70% of tart cherries in the U.S. each year.

Michigan is the top U.S. cherry-producing state, followed by Oregon and Washington, according to National Cherry Festival. The USDA claims that Michigan's tart cherry production was up by 39% from 2020, citing 96.6 million pounds of production in 2021. The USDA further lists Oregon's sweet cherry production as 45,540 tons in 2021 and Washington's output totaling 231,650 tons in 2021. The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center tells us that U.S. sweet cherry production in 2020 was at 265,820 tons. In 2021, this number heightened to 378.3 thousand tons, as listed on Statista.

Cherries create some of the most delicious desserts and dishes. Epicurious lists mouthwatering recipes ranging from spiced cherry spritz to cherry salsa and glazes. With the increase in cherry production and so many recipes available, there's no reason why you shouldn't snag a bag of cherries during your next supermarket visit.