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Cherry harvest gets into swing in Treasure Valley

Idaho is the fifth largest cherry producing state in the country. (KBOI photo)

Cherry pickers are busy early in the morning at Symms Fruit Ranch near Caldwell as the harvest gets started in the Treasure Valley.

Maria Mauleon, a cherry picker, says there's only one way to handle this fruit.

"Gently," she says. "Very gently.

Crew boss Junior Gonzalez says that's how they harvest the best cherries.

"So the secret to this is to pick them with the stem," he says, "and put them in the bucket as gently as we can and avoid any bruising on them."

Jamie Mertz with Symms Fruit Ranch says despite the severe winter, this season's cherry season looks promising.

The severe winter did not hurt the crop or push back the season, according to Mertz.

"We're very optimistic about that for tonnage and sales," Mertz says.

The main cherry varieties grown in Idaho include 'Bing,' which is the variety being picked in this orchard, as well as the 'Tieton' and 'Lapin.'

Idaho is the fifth largest cherry producing state in the country and the state annually exports 5 million tons around the country and the world.

The cherry picking season in Idaho is short and sweet. It starts now and wraps up in mid-July.

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