If you’re traveling along the roads of northern Michigan right now, you’ll probably see a few cherries available for sale on roadside farm stands. The photo posted above is of dark sweet cherries on Johnson Farms’ stand (my family’s farm) on the Old Mission Peninsula, about a half-mile north of Mapleton on the right side of the road.
As far as when various cherries will be ripe, the cherry farmers in my family say they’ll be starting to shake light brines (the lighter-colored and gold cherries) the week of July 10. They’ll shake light cherries first, followed by dark sweets.
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It takes about a week to shake the sweet cherries (lights and darks), and tart cherries will follow, with shaking of these to start sometime in the week of July 17.
But you should be able to find sweet cherries on some of the roadside farm stands right now, and tarts in possibly another week or so.
Folks often wonder why the National Cherry Festival isn’t held in northern Michigan during the days when cherries are actually ripe here. I don’t know the logistics behind the Cherry Festival timing, but sometimes they do coincide (like, for instance, being able to find dark sweets on farm stands this week).
On the cherry farming side of things, however, there are often too many variables – namely, the weather – to accurately predict when cherries will be ripe months ahead of time.
For a guide to roadside farm stands on the Old Mission Peninsula, check out our interactive map here.