Everything you need to know about the 2021 cherry season in Switzerland

Cherry season is now! Unlike strawberry season, it only lasts one month and that month is July. Unfortunately though, we bring bad news for this year: cherries will be in short supply in 2021, depending on the region and the time of ripening, both as distilled and canned cherries and table cherries. According to the first harvest estimate from end of May, the Swiss Fruit Association expects a quantity of 1,682 tons of table cherries, around 20 percent below the five-year average.

The Spring frost

Switzerland experienced an extremely warm February this year, with a nationwide average of 1.6 degrees, the second warmest February since 1864!  But since then there have been two to three waves with frost in Switzerland (depending on the region), this has had serious consequences for Swiss farmers. Already predicting in April that other stone fruit crops, especially cherries, would have suffered badly. Flower growth started early this year. “As a result, the frost damage to stone fruits will be higher than in previous years,” states Jonathan Fisch, business administration spokesman at the confederation.

Two weeks behind schedule

Ernst Lüthi, President of the Baselland Fruit Association says: “There will be a harvest, but unfortunately the cherry harvest will probably be around 50 percent of the normal amount harvested. That means, and I trust myself to make an estimate here, that it will be somewhere around 1500 tons of cherries throughout the whole of Switzerland. So it’s not that we will have no supplies “

We’ll have to wait a little longer until the cherries get their color and are sweet, because nature is “two weeks behind last year. Last year around this time, I had the first cherries on the farm”, says fruit farmer Kleiber from Biel-Benken.

Hearing from the farmers themselves

The harvest forecasts for the cherry farmers are very different. The Chriesisturm in the city of Zug was canceled earlier due to the corona, as was the Zuger Chriesimärt. Philipp Hotz from Hotzenhof in Deinikon already started with the harvest on the 28th of June. He expects a yield of up to 90 percent (entry 21/06/2021). For eight nights in spring, they have fought the cold with frost candles, apparently with success.

Xaver Moos from Zug’s Rüschenhof will only start harvesting this week (5th of July), noticing a gap in the early varieties and losses arising when handling the cherries. He had not taken any measures to protect the cherry blossoms against the cold in the spring months. Fortunately, they’re less affected by the frost due to the location and the cherry varieties grown there are also less susceptible.

Cherry distiller and variety specialist Hermann Röllin in Notikon expects a massive crop failure of 70 to 80 percent for cherries. According to Röllin, not much Zug cherry will be distilled this year either. For him, however, such fluctuations in cherry cultivation with standard trees are nothing unusual. After years with good to very good harvests, there is now a year with low yields. 

Local farmers need your help more than ever!

With fewer cherries available this season, let’s not allow their efforts and fruits to go to waste. Below we have compiled a list of farmers that offer cherries this season and self-picking. If none are near your area, head over to our platform and give your postal code, we’re sure you’ll find one nearby!

*Chriesisturm: Already in the 18th century, the bell of the “Chriesigloggä” – cherry bell – announced the ripening of the cherries on the “Allmend”, the meadows covered with cherry trees. When the bell rang at noon for the first time in June, the people of Zug knew that the cherries were ready to be picked. Equipped with large wooden ladders and “Chriesihutten” (baskets to be carried on their backs), they ran to the Allmend to pick the most beautiful and sweetest fruits.