Due to the nice weather and and the low incidence of frosts during the bloom in the Altes Land, a good harvest is expected for all cherry varieties. "To prevent the cherry from coming into contact with precipitation during the ripening phase, film canopies are put up as early as April. This allows the fruit to fully ripen and not burst," Jens Anderson, marketing manager of the leading producer organization Elbe-Obst, comments.
Vegetative development currently coincides with that in 2019 and 2020, so harvesting of the main varieties such as Kordia and Regina is expected to begin in early July. Anderson says, "We traditionally focus our marketing efforts on the late marketing phase into the second half of August. To do this, cherries are placed in ice water, cooling them immediately after picking to stabilize flesh firmness in a timely manner."
Use of climate-controlled bags
Efficient storage, sorting and packing
In addition, a fogging system is used during storage, which is why optimum humidity is ensured in the storage room. "This keeps the stems, which is an important identifier of the freshness of the cherries, green," Anderson adds.
Semi-automatic compressive strength testing
So-called climate bags are often used in marketing, Anderson continues. "In these, the cherries independently create an ideal atmosphere for storage. This creates a unique microclimate that ensures the natural appearance and aroma of the cherries for up to five weeks. Sorting is done photo-optically according to color and size up to 34 millimeters. The trays, carry bags or crates up to 5kg are then filled directly at the sorting machine."
Hand sorting during grading process
Protected cultivation on the rise
Protected cultivation of cherries now dominates among Elbe-Obst member farms and continues to increase. "Due to longer periods of rain and the associated uncertain harvests, the share of field-grown produce is decreasing more and more. Optimizations in cultivation, storage and sorting that have been ongoing for many years have nevertheless enabled Elbe-Obst to reliably arrange multi-week delivery programs with food retailers and to be active in exports as well."