How Cherries Are Shaken Off the Tree

published Jul 23, 2013
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I spent yesterday morning tramping around a tart cherry farm in northern Michigan, and I wanted to give you a sneak peek at one of the most interesting moments. Did you know that cherries are literally shaken off the tree?

For the past couple of days I’ve been in Traverse City, Michigan, on a trip sponsored by The Cherry Marketing Institute, who is always looking for ways, naturally, to help people eat a few more cherries. Tart cherries have been one of my favorite fruits for a long time, and I’m always curious to see how our produce is grown and taken to market.

I knew that cherries were mechanically harvested, but I had no idea what that actually looked like. I admit that I may have had vague ideas about robotic hands, but the truth is much simpler: Two machines roll up on either side of the tree and literally shake it, vibrating it to make the cherries fall off onto a rolling conveyor belt that immediately plops them into a tank of cold water.

I’ll show you more from the cherry farm tomorrow, but for now I wanted to give you this pixelated peek into the way these fragile little beauties are actually harvested. Have you ever been in an orchard and seen harvesting like this before?

(Video: Faith Durand)