Cherries have almost a thousand different varieties, which are roughly divided in half by sweet and sour types. Surprisingly, only twenty or so varieties are actually used in commercial production with Michigan growing the bulk of our country’s tart cherries.
Michigan offers an ideal climate and topography for bountiful cherry orchards. Harvesting over 90,000 tons of cherries each year, Michigan is the nation's leading producer of tart cherries.
Under the right conditions, an ordinary, tart cherry tree can produce about 7,000 cherries. Since the average cherry pie holds approximately 250 cherries, one cherry tree can make almost 30 pies.
How do growers get all of those tiny cherries off the trees for harvest? They use mechanical shakers to rattle the ripe cherries off the trees. These cherries then fall onto tarps, which feed them onto a conveyor belt.