Cherry picking has arrived in Leona Valley

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2The Bing and Ranier crops are still a week to 10 days away from ripening, maybe more, said Jennifer Beeler, president of the Leona Valley Cherry Growers Association. “This spring, when we had that rain, it pushed everything back. The cherries have to have 71 days from bloom to ripe fruit,” Beeler said. Despite the lateness, this year’s crop is a bumper one, she added. The orchards avoided the spring frosts that in previous years have damaged the blossoms or fruit. “They have tons and tons of cherries,” Beeler said. LEONA VALLEY – Mother Nature has cooperated – a little bit, anyway – ripening enough cherries for some Leona Valley orchards to open for Saturday’s Cherry Parade and Festival. Most of the town’s two dozen “u-pick” orchards will open in late June, because cool and rainy weather in March and April delayed the cherry blossoms, but at least two will be open by Saturday. “The serious pickers will be standing in line,” said Gary Shafer, whose 4,000-tree Villa Del Sol orchard includes 1,000 of the Brooks variety that ripen earlier than the Bings and Raniers predominant among Leona Valley orchards. Orchards’ opening dates will be reported on the growers association telephone hotline at (661) 266-7116. The town’s annual Cherry Parade, which was scheduled months before growers knew the crop would be late, will be 11 a.m. Saturday. The parade runs along 90th Street West, beginning at Leona School on Leona Avenue and heading north to Elizabeth Lake Road and then east to the Leona Valley Community Building. The parade theme is “Hip-Hip Hooray, It’s Cherry Day,” submitted by Hanna Clark, who will ride in the parade as junior grand marshal. Grand marshals will be longtime Leona Valley residents Tom and Judy Brundage. The Cherry Festival Craft Fair follows immediately after the parade at the community building, 8367 Elizabeth Lake Road. Besides country-style creations by local artisans, the fair will feature live music, a cherry pie-eating contest, games and 4-H Club equestrian events. Besides Shafer’s Villa Del Sol on Elizabeth Lake Road at Godde Hill Road, Sky Meadows Orchard on Elizabeth Lake Road west of 90th Street West is also expected to be open Saturday, Beeler said. Some orchard owners have scheduled June 17 openings, and others are waiting to see how their fruit ripens, Beeler said. Blessed with an altitude and climate suited for cherries, Leona Valley for decades has been home to cherry ranches that open their gates each spring so visitors can enjoy the country atmosphere and pick the fruit themselves. Visitors come from all over Southern California, and even from Japan and Europe. Beeler runs the valley’s oldest orchard, Hobart’s, whose oldest trees were planted in 1959. Growers say their cherries taste better than store-bought fruit, which must be picked before they are fully ripe so they will last long enough to be purchased. “The longer they set on the tree, the more sugar they’ll get, up to a point,” Shafer said. [email protected] (661) 267-5742160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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