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Shipping During Michigan's Tart Cherry Season

Tart cherry season means shipping this Michigan fruit nationwide. Learn the ins and outs of tart cherry transportation from an industry leader.

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Ask Truckload
March 24, 2020
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Are you preparing for Michigan’s Tart Cherry season? Well, then you have come to the right place. Tart Cherry Season provides a great deal of potential for producers of cherries. It allows them to deliver a service and indeed a product that is in high demand. The possible profits here can be tremendous and are well worth considering, as you plan your business model around this annual event. However, there is a range of factors that you need to keep in mind in order to be prepared—and this includes shipping.  

When arranging to ship during Michigan’s tart cherry season, it is important that you take care to prevent the cherries from spoiling. This is done by maintaining the cold chain and preventing pests from damaging the shipment, while also taking care to preserve the physical integrity of the fruits. 

In this article, we’ll discuss everything that you need to know about shipping during Michigan’s tart cherry season and discuss some key decisions. 

When is Michigan’s Tart Cherry Season?

When is Michigan’s Tart Cherry Season

The first thing that you need to consider about the tart cherry season is when this actually occurs. Understanding the key dates will help you know exactly when you need to start preparing for this time.

The good news is that it’s easy to keep track of this season because it’s the same time every year. The tart cherry season begins in July. This is determined by the weather and when the cherries are ready to be picked. The harvest season lasts a total of two weeks. However, the cherries that are picked are available all year round. This is due to the fact that the cherries will be frozen and will still have a presence in stores by the winter months. 

What Varieties of Cherries are Grown in Michigan?

You might think that there’s only one type of cherry grown during the tart cherry season in Michigan. However, this is not the case. There are a variety of different types of cherries that are grown, including, sweet, sour, and tart cherries. Some of the examples include: 

  • Montmorency cherries - This is the iconic tart cherry that the state has become known for. It is the most common type of cherry crop in Michigan, and it is known for its distinctive sour flavor.
  • Cavalier cherries -  These black cherries are sweet with a medium to large fruit and are available early to mid season.
  • Sams cherries - These are found on trees that have grape-like clusters of fruit and come in mid to late in the season 
  • Ulster cherries - The ulster cherry is sweet as well as a firm. It is a cross of Lambert and Schmidt. It is often considered to be Michigan’s best cherry. 
  • Emperor Francis cherries - this is one of the light sweet cherries, it is beautiful and yellow, with a bright red side
  • Rainier cherries - This is a large yellow cherry although it has a red blush. The cherries provide a delicate and sweet flavor. 
  • Gold cherries - These cherries are specifically grown for the commercial market. As the name suggests, they do have a yellow shade. 

As you can see, the cherry variety that is grown during this particular season is diverse. The different types provide a vast variety of flavors and tastes, while differing aesthetically. Some are far more popular than others.

Michigan isn't the only place where cherries grow. Learn about shipping cherries from Washington.

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.

Hydro-cooling Fresh Tart Cherries after Harvest

Hydro-cooling Fresh Tart Cherries after Harvest

Once the harvest is finished, it is important that cherries are cooled the right way. The aim here is to ensure that they do not spoil before they have a chance to be packed. It’s important to note that when the cherries are picked, the field temperature is usually 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As you might have expected, this temperature is enough to cause damage to the cherries themselves after harvest if they are kept at that temperature off the tree. 

You must make sure that this issue is dealt with the right way. Hydro-cooling is considered to be a highly effective option for cooling tart cherries quickly without damaging their skins. Through this process, it is possible to remove field heat quickly. For the process of hydro-cooling, the cherries will be submerged in near-freezing cold water until they have reached a temperature of at least 41 degrees Fahrenheit. 

After hydro-cooling, tart cherries can then move on to the quality control process. 

Managing Tart Cherry Pests and Diseases

If you are involved in the process of growing and harvesting tart cherries, then you do need to think about both the pests and disease. The danger here will depend on a few factors including the location and the temperature of where the cherry trees are growing. You need to make sure that you understand the potential danger here and ensure that you are protecting the cherries the right way. You can consider disease-resistant cherry trees. The benefit of this option is that you will be provided with an easy-care solution. However, you will still need to ensure that the trees are maintained the right way. 

Good examples of maintenance will typically include the right level of fertilization as well as watering. You may also want to think about seasonal pruning too. This is going to help ensure that the tree remains in the right condition. It’s worth pointing out that there is a range of pests that you will need to watch for. 

These include:

  • Aphids
  • Cherry Fruit Fly
  • Moths 
  • Borers
  • Leafhopper

There is also a wide range of diseases that you need to be aware of too, including:

  • Armillaria Root Rot
  • Botrytis Rot
  • Brown Rot
  • Canker
  • Crown Gall

Each of these issues will present a different set of symptoms. You need to be aware of the signs so that you can act accordingly to correct the issue. For instance, in the case of crown gall, you might notice that the tree seems to be slow-growing or stunted. On finished nursery stock, the symptoms of Crown Gall are often clear to see. As such, it is easier to take the right steps in handling the problem. 

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In contrast, you might be dealing with a problem like mites. They can come in a range of different colors too and this makes it even more difficult to identify them. You will need to consider the symptoms carefully. The leaves will appear bronze and in some cases, you might notice webbing too. This pest is common through dry spells and droughts. 

Or, you could have an issue with moths. The problems here will first become apparent in the vegetive growth of the plant. However, the issue is left unresolved, it will also begin to impact and infest the fruit. There will typically be a larvae tunnel which proceeds in through the stem. The best way to deal with an infestation like this is with a fruit tree fumigant spray to kill the pests. 

Handling and Packaging Fresh Tart Cherries

Handling and Packaging Fresh Tart Cherries

Fresh tart cherries are in many ways, similar to any other form of produce. They need to be handled with care. A crucial difference compared to other options is that during tart cherry season, the cherries will need to be cooled down immediately after they are harvested. This means that it is absolutely vital that you have the right set up in place. Cherries are highly perishable. They will keep for the longest duration when they are kept cool as well as dry. If you are keen to ship cherries, then there are a wide variety of options. 

However, before you even begin to package, you need to make sure that the fruit is not bruised or damaged. Issues like this are going to make them unsellable. Once you have done this, you should then wash the fruit with care. It is important that you are doing this using cool water. When you are storing the cherries, they need to be kept away from meat because of potential contamination. The fruit should also be stored somewhere below 41 F. 

You need to make sure that you are being careful when you are adding cherries into a container. It is important that they are stored delicately and that there aren’t too many cherries added to one box. In some cases, businesses will use ice packs when transporting cherries. This is particularly useful if the cherries are going to be sent over a significant distance. In other cases, this will not be necessary. Tart cherries must be stored in containers that are strong and sturdy enough to protect them throughout transportation.

Need help with freight shipping from Michigan to Texas? See how an expert freight partner can get your cherries to the Lone Star State.

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.

Transporting Fresh Tart Cherries from Michigan by the Truckload

Transporting Fresh Tart Cherries from Michigan by the Truckload

One of the key considerations that you will need to make with your products during the tart cherry season is how you are going to transport the produce to your customers. Obviously, it is important that the cherries remain in a sellable condition during transportation and when they arrive at their destination. One of the best and indeed most affordable options is going to be transporting the cherries by truck. The big benefit here is that it is a lot cheaper than air travel and still provides a high standard of transport that you need. 

However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind before you are able to ascertain for sure whether this is going to be the right choice. For instance, you need to guarantee that the cherries will be packaged correctly and the trucks are going to be able to provide the correct conditions. As well as this, you will also need to guarantee that they aren't going too far. You will need to speak to your shipping provider about this option to determine whether they can provide the solution you need. 

If you can ship your cherries on a refrigerated truck, then things are different. They will be able to remain in the truck for longer. This means that you won’t have to worry, even if you are transporting them over a greater distance.

After the cherries have been packed correctly, they can be loaded into cartons quickly. These containers have a stackable nature. The cartons are offered a certain level of protection thanks to insulations which ensures the cold temperature is kept consistent. When cherries are shipped by the truckload, it is possible for them to be transported to all neighboring states and potentially even as far as Canada. 

The volumes may vary from one truck to the next. However, it is possible for dozens of cartons to be carried at any time. This means that tens of thousands of fruits can be on the road at once. It is worth ensuring that the containers are ready for removal once they arrive. This can be completed easily using a forklift if they have been palletized. That will ensure that there are no issues with delays once the cherries reach their destination. 

Need help with freight shipping from Michigan to New York? Let an expert freight partner handle this busy route.

What Temperature Should Tart Cherries be Shipped At?

What Temperature should Tart Cherries be Shipped at

It’s important to ensure that the right temperature is maintained through the shipping process of your tart cherries. Essentially, you will need to guarantee that these are shipped at a temperature under 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Between 30 and 32 degrees is considered ideal.

It is worth noting that this is going to be the same temperature that your cherries reach when you hydro cool them. So, you just need to make sure that this temperature isn’t impacted. Even a temporary change of just a few degrees can be catastrophic. Essentially, it will cause then cherries to ripen at an accelerated level. Usually, this can be avoided by ensuring that the cherries are protected by cooled cartons. This is particularly important when the cherries are being switched from trucks to various other vehicles. This doesn’t stop at the transportation process either. You also need to make sure that the cherries remain at the right temperature all the way up until the point of purchase. 

Something to consider during the tart cherry season is whether or not your cherries need to be temperature controlled. The simple answer to this question is yes. If you fail to do this, then what you will likely notice is skin damage. This can impact the taste of the fruit and that could change the value. As such, extra care needs to be taken at every step to ensure that the temperatures are maintained. It is important to note that keeping the temperature below 41 degrees Fahrenheit for the first four hours should only be considered a starting point. 

It is also important to consider the materials used for shipping as well. For instance, research shows that using expanded polystyrene foams or even radiant barrier films can be a useful element for keeping the temperature under control. Of course, the main factor is always going to be the vehicles themselves. It’s absolutely vital that they are equipped correctly. 

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.

The Cold Chain Logistics Process for Fresh Tart Cherries

The Cold Chain Logistics Process for Tart Fresh Cherries

One of the key areas that you must keep in mind when thinking about this process is the cold chain. The cold chain is essential when ensuring that your cherries are going to stay at the right temperature. This should be the case throughout the entire journey they will need to go on to reach their destination. The cold chain starts from the moment the cherries are picked and harvested, extending to when they reach the shop floor and end up in the hands of consumers.

As well as maintaining the temperature of cherries during the shipment after tart cherry, there are a few other goals here too. For instance, it is important that there is no issue with overspending and that the whole process remains completely efficient throughout the journey. 

Furthermore, care is taken to ensure that only the cherries are transported, since other debris and plant parts are removed beforehand. Cherries are also packed in a way that guarantees the highest number of products can be stored and shipped at a certain point without risking injury or damage to the fruit. 

Regardless of where the cherries are going once they leave washing, the cold chain is always going to be a vital element. It will ensure that there are no issues with lost profits due to an inefficient solution or cherries being damaged. It is perhaps worth noting that there will be a wide range of team members included in ensuring that the cold chain remains intact throughout this process. You need to ensure that your team is up to the challenge and ready to deliver the service that you need. 

While the cold chain is always important when transporting fresh produce, it is particularly significant for cherries. This is due to how cherries can be impacted by changes in temperature. 

Conditions for Shipping Fresh Tart Cherries 

As you might have noticed, the main condition to be aware of during the tart cherry season is most definitely the temperature. It can not be stressed enough just how vital it is that your tart cherries remain at the right temperature throughout the entire shipping process. However, there are also other conditions that should be considered as well. For instance, you need to make sure that you are thinking about humidity levels. 

Ideally, you should be ensuring that humidity levels remain at roughly 90 - 95%. This is something to consider when you are transporting the cherries and choosing the shipment option that matches your needs. Furthermore, you also need to think about how much the temperature can change. You might also want to think about changing the levels of CO2 and O2 if this is an option. Ideally, these products should be shipped with a 10-15% CO2 level and a 3-10% oxygen level. 

There are various ways to change the conditions during the shipping of cherries. One option to consider would be using polyethylene liners. Studies suggest that this can be enough to ensure that the market life of cherries can be prolonged. However, for this to occur, it is vital that the liners are opened as soon as the fruit is taken out of cold storage. The aim here will be to ensure that there are no issues with off-flavors. This will occur if the cherries reach a high temperature. 

As well as keeping the cherries cool, there also needs to be a certain level of airflow for the cherries as well. 

How Long Can Fresh Tart Cherries be Stored? 

How Long can Fresh Tart Cherries be Stored

The time you can store fresh tart cherries will largely depend on how you store them. If fresh tart cherries are left at room temperature, then they will need to be consumed immediately without delay. There is limited to no option for storage. Alternatively, you might be refrigerating the cherries. If that’s the case, then you can expect them to keep for longer, especially if they are stored in a sealed plastic bag. In some cases, they could be stored for up to two weeks without seeing any issues at all. 

That said, cherries are highly perishable. For this reason, it is worth ensuring that they are transported as quickly as possible. Even with the right cold chain set up, you can easily run into issues here with cherries arriving at a location in an unsellable condition. This is particularly true when there has been a delay with delivery.

You should make sure that the delivery service that you choose during the tart cherry season is able to match your requirements. It is important that they are going to be able to deliver your cherries long before they start to go bad. Don’t forget, most suppliers will want to be able to market cherries for at least a few days. This is another reason why you need to guarantee that you are investing in an efficient solution for the shipping of your tart cherries. Of course, if you are worried about this, then there are other options that you may want to consider.

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.

Shipping Processed Tart Cherries 

Shipping Processed Tart Cherries

If you are worried about the complex issues surrounding shipping fresh cherries this tart cherry season, then you may want to consider some of the alternative options. A clear benefit of these possibilities is that they don't require such specific conditions. Furthermore, the cherries also have extended storage life. As such, you won’t need to rush to get them out to the shops and into the transport trucks. There are three main options that you can consider here. 

Frozen Tart Cherries

You might want to think about frozen tart cherries. Frozen tart cherries will usually be shipped through the winter months. For frozen tart cherries, it is important that the fruit is prepared as soon as it is harvested. Tart cherries need to be pitted prior to freezing, so consumers won’t have to worry about pits when they want to enjoy their frozen cherries in a smoothie or cherry pie. 

After processing, the cherries must be stored at the right temperature immediately. Crucially, during transport, this temperature needs to be maintained to stop the cherries from thawing. As such, it will still be necessary to guarantee that the trucks that you use have the right equipment in place. Cherries can also only remain frozen for a fixed period. Due to this, it is still important that the transportation process remains efficient. Frozen tart cherries are popular with consumers.

Canned Tart Cherries

Arguably, canning is one of the easiest options in terms of transporting and shipping processed cherries. As the name suggests, the cherries are prepared and then stored inside cans. As such, there is no need to worry about issues such as temperature or humidity. Instead, the cherries can be transported in a typical fashion like any other tinned good. There is far less chance of cans like this being damaged and the cherries remain protected. 

Less equipment is also required for this option because the cans do not need to remain in a temperature-controlled environment. As such, the cold chain is no longer necessary. You can also transport these items much farther.

Dried Tart Cherries

Dried tart cherries are another option to consider if you are looking to process cherries before shipping. Dried tart cherries need to go through an extensive preparation process before they are ready for shipment. It is important that they are prepared and packaged in the right way. Dried cherries will usually be packaged in plastic bags to ensure that they remain free from air contamination. 

Dried tart cherries are another popular choice with consumers and can be sold in bulk to grocery stores. It is worth noting that they can also be modified to ensure that they provide different types of flavors. This is one of the ways that you can make your product stand out. 

They can be transported over relatively large distances so there is less limit on transportation options. You just need to discuss with your logistics provider the right option for these processed cherries. They still need to be packaged carefully to avoid damage and guarantee that consumers get the high-quality product they want. 

Shipping Tart Cherries with R+L Global Logistics

Now that you know all the different factors that you should keep in mind during Tart Cherry Season, it’s important to consider a key question. What company will you use to handle your shipping needs? At R+L Global Logistics, we aim to provide the ultimate solution to any of your freight shipping needs. We will strive to ensure that our customers can access the expert solution they need when shipping tart cherries. This includes ensuring that the right conditions are met. We won’t let your cherries be spoiled during what can be a crucial time for your business. 

We offer a range of freight services that you would need to ship during Michigan’s tart cherry season, including:

We’re experts in the industry and have helped countless customers gain the professional solutions that they need. Whether you are a large or small business, we are confident that we can help you get your tart cherries shipped quickly and safely. If you’re ready to ship your tart cherries or do any other freight shipping from Michigan to Florida, or anywhere else, you can count on us. We move everything from cherries to handling the peanut supply chain and more.


We are always willing to go the extra mile for our customers, especially during important shipping times like Michigan’s tart cherry season. Call us today at (866) 353-7178 for your free truckload shipping quote.

What temperature should tart cherries be shipped at?

It’s important to ensure that the right temperature is maintained through the shipping process of your tart cherries. Essentially, you will need to guarantee that these are shipped at a temperature under 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Between 30 and 32 degrees is considered ideal.

How long can fresh tart cherries be stored?

The time you can store fresh tart cherries will largely depend on how you store them. If fresh tart cherries are left at room temperature, then they will need to be consumed immediately without delay. There is limited to no option for storage.

What is the cold chain logistics process for cold tart cherries?

The cold chain is essential when ensuring that your cherries are going to stay at the right temperature. This should be the case throughout the entire journey they will need to go on to reach their destination. The cold chain starts from the moment the cherries are picked and harvested, extending to when they reach the shop floor and end up in the hands of consumers.

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.
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