This past weekend, my family and I went cherry picking for the very first time. After two years of missing this lighting fast U-Pick season, we finally made it out east in time—and I have baskets full of red, ripe fruit to prove it. But, with the rain falling hard and fast early Saturday morning, I wasn’t sure if we would make it.
You see, summer cherries are only available for picking for about two to three weeks tops and two things determine how long the season lasts. The first is a basic supply and demand issue. There are only so many cherries to be harvested, so if a mass of people picks the first week, the fruit will be gone. The second is all about Mother Nature. Once a heavy rainfall comes into town, the fruit will split and then it’s no longer good for picking. This means that cherry loving fools like myself must move quickly if we want to get our hands on freshly picked fruit.
To my knowledge, Wickham’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue is the only place you can pick cherries right off the trees. So, when the rain finally stopped pouring on Saturday morning, I piled the kids into the car and made a mad dash out east.
As our truck rolled into the dusty parking lot, we were greeted by a flock of chickens squawking behind a large mesh fence. My chicken-loving children eagerly clambered out of the car to visit them and check out their coop while my husband and I gathered up our gear and headed up to the stand to pay our entrance fee.
While I stood in line, I noticed that strawberries were also still available for picking. Since I love strawberries just as much as I love cherries, I honestly thought about ditching the cherries and diving straight into the strawberry fields instead. But since I had already been strawberry picking once this season, I held fast to my visions of making homemade Bing Cherry Ice Cream, Cherry Peach Freezer Jam, and my sister’s Cherry Hand Pies.
So, with bottles of water and straw colored baskets in our hands, we set off down a long, winding path in search of the cherry trees. We passed strawberry and apple fields, blackberry and blueberry fields, and finally, we arrived at four rows of cherry trees full of fruit just waiting to be picked.
Unlike strawberry picking, where you are close to the ground picking berries off a plant, cherry picking requires you to look upwards into the tree to scout for the very best fruit. Many visitors were much smarter than we were and came prepared with step stools. Unfortunately, we did not think of this, so my husband and I had to lift our children onto our shoulders to get our hands on some of the ripest fruit.
After an hour and a half of searching through the trees, our baskets were full and we were ready to go home. With my cherry-picking quest complete, I happily walked back to the paths and made mental notes of all the tasty treats I was going to make this week. When I called the farm this afternoon, cherries were still ripe for the picking, but not for much longer. So, if you’re planning to go this weekend, call the farm before you go for hours and to confirm availability.
Wickham’s Fruit Farm is located at 28700 Main Road in Cutchogue. Please call them directly to confirm availability at 631.734.6441.