KALISPELL - Have you been craving a sweet Flathead Valley cherry, but can’t seem to find them anywhere? It turns out a lot of orchards haven't been able to start their harvest yet.
Last year around the Fourth of July it seemed like cherries were everywhere, but now it is almost August and only a few orchards around Flathead have started picking.
From the bright red Pie Cherry, to dark and sweet Lamberts, and even the yellow and red Rainier Cherry, Gateway Orchards grows them all. For owner Barbara Kaye, cherry picking varies from year to year.
"The last two years we were picking on the Fourth of July but every year it varies because of the weather," Kaye said.
But these last two years have not been normal for cherry orchards.
“To me that’s unusual to be picking the Fourth of July because that’s early,” Kaye said, “but when you have that two years in a row, people start looking for it."
Kaye says she usually starts picking between the 15th and the 25th of July, but this year's cooler temperatures have pushed harvest time to the end of that window.
"We’ve been very selective because we just started picking Friday and the pickers don’t like having to jump around, but that’s what we have to do just picking the trees that are ready," Kaye said.
Now with hot weather on the way, Kaye is hopeful that more of her orchard will be ripe.
"My orchard is on a slope so we have been picking up top where they are ripe, and hopefully we will be able to get down here soon," Kaye said.
Cherry picking season usually lasts around two weeks and Kaye says more stands will open as the temperatures rise.