Flathead County Coverage

Jul 17, 2013 6:33 PM by Dax VanFossen - KAJ News

Flathead cherry harvest looks delicious this year

BLUE BAY - One of the biggest draws for tourism in Northwest Montana is cherry picking season. It started this week, and roadside stands will soon begin overflowing with the delicious Flathead Fruit.

It may look calm and peaceful on Highway 35 overlooking beautiful Flathead Lake, but that is just the calm before the storm. In a matter of only a week, this will become the epicenter of commerce for the Flathead Valley. Why? Because it's cherry picking time.

In fact, the harvest began in areas of Finley Point near Polson this week. Many of the Lamberts and other variations of cherries are coming off the trees and will be at stands shortly. Further north on Highway 35, Lapin cherry grower Ken Edginton is still a week away, but says a good crop is coming.

"The crop looks good so far, I think if you talk to most orchards, they're going to say the crop looks very good, even though we did have a cold snap early in the season," said Ken Edgington, Flathead cherry grower.

While not as heavy as last year's crop, estimates are still in the millions.

"Our estimate right now for the Flathead Lake Cherry growers is about one and half million pounds maybe, that's down from last year, but Washington was off considerably," said Edgington.

Edgington says, in another week, we will be able to experience why the Flathead Cherries are among the sweetest around.

"We think it has a lot to do with the fact that our nights stay cool. Where in other parts of the country where cherries are grown, their evenings are warm. So our cherries hang on the tree for longer, and hanging on the tree allows them to have more time to build up the sugar content and build up the taste that everybody associates with the Flathead Cherries," said Edgington.

Flathead Cherries should already be available in stands especially near the Polson area.

The Polson Main Street Flathead Cherry Festival kicks off this Saturday and is chock-full of fun activities for the whole family from stem-tying to pie eating to pit spitting. The festival opens Saturday at 9am.

There will cherry pie eating contest, cherry pit spitting, stem tying contest, cherry cooking contest, plus exhibits and Montana made items. Come see, eat, purchase amazing assortment of everything from art, photos, crafts, delicious food and treats.

The festival runs Saturday from 9am to 6pm.

And the fun continues Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

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