Cherry Production

The quality of a Coral Beach Farms cherry is a result of a well-balanced relationship between Mother Nature, and the skill and dedication that our loyal staff put into growing and packaging a fine product.

A good quality cherry begins with a rigorous pruning of the trees through fall and winter. Excessively strong branches are removed, as are branches that are too weak. In this process the tree is opened up to sunlight and the number of remaining fruit buds is brought into balance with the root system's ability to size and sweeten the fruit.

Mid to late April the cherry trees burst into blossom. A well-pollinated cherry is a well-formed, large cherry, so over 200 beehives are brought into the orchards to pollinate the flowers.

Throughout the months of May, June and July we monitor for insects and disease, which threaten our crops, and control these as required. We select the least toxic product available to control the insect or disease in question for consumer safety and environmental reasons.

As harvest approaches and the cherries advance from a straw yellow color to pink, a constant vigil must be kept against the cherry grower's old nemesis - rain. Rainfall of duration longer than a few hours can cause cracking of the cherry's skin as the flesh absorbs moisture faster than the skin can stretch to contain it. This cracking most often occurs around the stem bowl of the cherry where water pools, or on the nose of the cherry where a droplet will form. The main tactics used to combat this threat is to blow the excess moisture off the cherries by means of low flying helicopters and/ or tractor drawn blowers.

As harvest approaches the maturity of the cherries is monitored carefully. A refractometer measures sugar content and harvest begins when these levels are optimized, not before.

A well-conceived harvest and packing process is critical to maintain the high quality we have worked all season to produce. Harvest picking occurs by hand and is carried out from 5 am to 11 am or so each morning when cooler temperatures allow damage free handling of this delicate fruit. Cherries are carefully picked into 20-pound corrugated plastic totes, which are placed into bins, tagged, and then covered in a reflective tarp to keep the cherries cool. Within an hour of harvest each bin is delivered to the packing plant and placed in a cooler.

Cherries in the receiving cooler are processed on a first in first out basis to ensure their freshness. It is also our policy to sort and pack each cherry on the same day as it is harvested. From the receiving area, the tote of cherries is emptied into a Fachaux machine which removes any debris, and leaves, and delicately breaks up clusters of cherries, leaving the stems on. Cherries are then filtered into 10lb pails before being transported to the grading room.

During the grading process the pail of cherries is emptied carefully onto a sorting table and defective specimens are removed by hand. Belts then carefully transport the selected cherries to the hydrocooler where the cherries pass under showers of nearly freezing water for ten minutes to remove any remaining field heat and preserve the cherry's shelf life all the way to the customer. The water in the hydrocooler has an automatic chlorination system to maintain potable water standards and ensure consumer safety.

After the hydrocooler, the chilled cherries are transported on elastic belts to the Unitec optical sizer. Each and every cherry is moved through this computerized optical sizer where it is photographed eight times to attain the correct size and color variance. The cherries are singulated by cups and exited off to their appropriate destination by a puff of compressed air, dropped into chilled water again, and moved through to the final stage of production.

At the final stage of production, cherries are once again manually graded and checked by our dedicated Quality Control team before being custom packed, palletized to size, and placed in the shipping cooler. Here they await news of which corner of the globe they are destined for. Our fruit almost always leaves our warehouse within 24 to 48 hours of harvest.

Come and be part of the Coral Beach Farm family! We have some of the best summer jobs in Canada where you can be part of fun yet hardworking international community! Want to see what it is all about?  Take a look at our videos on our You Tube channel.  Apply now for a seasonal job at Coral Beach Farms!

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Coral Beach was awesome!

Frank Doss, BC

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