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Cherries are here, but people aren't buying them

Joanna Kosinska

Officials say it’s been a good tart cherry season, but with supply being high, growers are having trouble finding a place to sell their fruit.

Without processing – whether that be drying or pitting them – tart cherries are typically not in high demand.

Processing facilities are paying less for the harvest, And that leaves growers to either sell them at a booth or leave them on the ground.

Heather Leach, orchard manager at Cherry Bay Orchards, said with the struggle of selling the tart cherries, Northern Michigan growers might be moving into a new era.

“Northern Michigan is sort of at this turning point where we're starting to see the value of cherries drop,” Leach said. “Growers really struggle to sell their fruit. And I think what that means is sort of this, again, inherent identity crisis with what we are and what we produce.”

She says Northern Michigan may start to see reduction in cherry acreage unless there’s new innovation to sell the fruit.

“People like to buy them around here to support growers to maybe make a homemade cherry pie,” Leach said. “But beyond that, they're not going to take them home and dry them themselves for salads, or make concentrate, themselves. And so that market opportunity for direct sale is actually kind of low.”

Michael Gonzalez is a fourth year at Central Michigan that majors in journalism. He is from Pinckney, Michigan, will be an intern for WCMU and the Alpena News this summer.