‘Tis the season we cherry-ish

Once a year, a delicious small red stone fruit packed with nutrients becomes available for a limited time only … that’s right, it’s officially Cherry Time, an apt and trademarked descriptor by one of SA’s biggest producers, Dutoit Agri.

Harvested by Dutoit for 10 weeks, these sweet, firm and juicy delights now available for online orders and in selected Pick ‘n Pay stores countrywide.

For all the beauty and taste that they offer, Cherry Time is only available for a limited couple of months between November and December every year, with volumes peaking from mid-November until the end of December. 

Dutoit’s cherries are carefully nurtured and cultivated throughout the year in the Koue Bokkeveld, high above the Ceres Valley, before being hand-picked at harvest time to keep the stem intact. They are then cooled down quickly in order to keep them firm and fresh, and full of flavour.

While the 2023 winter was particularly harsh, with 40% more chilling than the previous ten year average, cherries do prefer long cold winters which prevents them from breaking out of dormancy too early.

Dutoit says that along with the prolonged winter and plentiful new young trees and orchards coming into bearing, they were expecting a bumper cherry season. Unfortunately, excessive rain and wet soil has been a major challenge. Regardless, this leading family-owned fresh produce business is expecting a total crop volume similar to last season.

Dutoit grows approximately 2,000 tonnes of cherries per year, of which half are exported and the other half sold locally following a largely direct marketing model under the Cherry Time brand. Dutoit also supplies selected Pick n Pay stores and selected retailers

Its new 5,000 m2 packing facility in Ceres, launched in 2022, includes three hydro-cooling systems and a fully-automated packing machine that can process eight truckloads of cherries a day, which translates to shipping six million kg of cherries seasonally.

This new facility helps ensure that no human hands need to touch the cherries again after they are picked, which results in fewer defects and damage.

Besides being delicious and versatile, cherries are also packed with antioxidants and contain melatonin (that aids with sleep), potassium (that helps prevent hypertension) and B-vitamins (that boosts the metabolism). 

For more information, go to www.cherrytime.co.za