The harvest of the latest cherry varieties in the highlands of Aragon will start this week. “We expect to produce around 1,000 tons of cherries this year. We'll begin to harvest the Santina variety between June 5 and 7. This is a well-known mid-season variety that has good caliber and a lot of sugar because it's grown in the mountain area between 840 and 1,050 meters above sea level,” stated Alberto Perez Millan, manager of Mountain Cherry. “The farm is also on the north face of the mountain, so the fruit is less affected by the sun and, as it experiences a greater thermal difference between day and night, the cherries are harder and have a greater accumulation of sugar.”
Since it is a late variety, this fruit is not affected by the weather adversities of late spring. Despite this, a significant percentage of the Mountain Cherry plantation is covered by anti-hail mesh. “70 of the 100 hectares cultivated with cherries are protected by meshes, two of which are colored with the flag of Spain, which can be seen from the air. The fruit that is underneath the anti-hail mesh ripens more slowly than the cherries grown outdoors. They are ready about 10 days later which favors the entry of the fruit into the market when the early campaign is already over.”
Alberto started Mountain Cherry 16 years ago, and since then its cherries are marketed both in the national market and in the export market. Based on data from 2022, Aragon currently produces approximately 41% of Spain's cherries and, unlike other stone fruits in the region, the cherry industry has continued to increase its surface area, grow new varieties, and increase its professionalization, even after the Russian veto, which was a turning point for the entire sector. “The cultivation of cherries in Aragon is very modernized, there is a great specialization and producers make use of the latest techniques and genetic developments,” Alberto stated.
“Since they are late cherries, the fruit was still in a very green state and the rains were good for them.”
The long-awaited Spanish campaign began several weeks ago with very positive forecasts, but the recent rains have had an uneven impact on the different production areas. Unfortunately, after months of waiting for their arrival, the rains at the end of May in Extremadura have caused such serious damage to the crops that the mayors of northern Caceres have even asked to declare a declaration of disaster in the area. “Fortunately, in our case, these rains have benefited us. Since our cherries are later varieties, the fruit was still in a very green state and the water helped them gain weight without suffering significant cracking problems. In fact, we are already noticing that, after the news in Extremadura, interest in the supply of cherries from this area has increased.”
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