Growers race heat while harvesting cherries

Cherry harvest off to a busy start.

While many people are sticking to the air conditioning for relief from the hot weather, cherry growers are putting in extra hours outdoors.

This season's harvest started last week, and now they're working hard to finish before the heat hurts the fruit.

Growers say this harvest looks good.

Despite last yearâ??s setbacks, grower Josh Wunsch says this year is on track.

â??It's bigger, it's better, it's day and night from the standpoint of last year's crop," said Josh Wunsch. "Last year was an anomaly.â??

â??This has been a pretty good harvest this year. I have no complaints,â?? said Jerry Springer of Grayâ??s Fruit. â??Most [growers] are saying itâ??s a nice crop, just not a nice price.â??

The extreme heat is the main concern this year, as it can wreak havoc on the fruit. â??You're in a pretty short window, especially when we go with bad weather,â?? said Springer.

Wunsch says the heat can impact the fruit's quality because it ends up cooking the fruit while itâ??s still on the trees. That's why employees on the cherry orchards are putting in long hours, shaking, sorting, and packaging cherries.

"We probably have ten solid days of hard work ahead of us,â?? said Wunsch.

Wunsch said crews will be working around the clock, but theyâ??re no strangers to the heavy load.

During last year's tough season, workers had more down time, which they used to work on this year's crop.

"We had to keep those beautiful trees beautiful even though they didn't have much to offer,â?? said Wunsch.

Wunsch said he would have liked to have the cherries harvested by this past Monday, but crews are working hard to make up the difference.

The mechanical shakers are able to harvest about 90-percent of the cherries from the trees, the rest are picked by hand.