Flathead Lake cherries travel abroad—fast

Montana State Roundup

Published October 1, 2000  | October 2000 issue

Flathead Lake cherry growers are reaching world markets these days, largely due to a Washington state company that handles transport, packing and marketing of more than 70 percent of the region's commercial crop. Grown in the northwestern part of the state, the cherries move from Montana to the distributor's plant in Selah, Wash., and on to France, Taiwan and other destinations via special air freight.

Three years ago the local Flathead Cherry Growers Association packing plant closed, partially due to slow processing and the inability to get the crop to distant markets in a timely fashion. And with the cherries in increasing demand abroad, each year more producers are contracting with the Washington firm to move their product.

According to the Montana Agricultural Statistics Service, this year's crop of about 1,100 tons will likely equal 1997, but be lower than the record harvest of 2,000 tons in 1998.