The official Utah State Fruit is the cherry.
The cherry has been an important part of Utah’s economy for many years. Utah farmers grow many varieties of both sweet and tart cherries and the state has become the second largest tart cherry producer in the nation and the fifth largest sweet cherry producer in the nation. Utah is the only state to rank in the top five for both types of cherries.
In recent years, Utah has had an average annual production of over 25 million pounds of tart cherries and over 2 thousand tons of sweet cherries. Tart production was so large in 2009 that cherries were left to rot in the fields with cherry producers unable to cultivate and sell the large amount grown. Utah County is the leader in the state, producing over half of both the sweet and tart cherries grown, as well as a variety of other fruits.
History of Utah State Fruit – Cherry
In 1997, Utah declared the cherry the official state fruit. This was brought upon by a group of 2nd graders at Millville Elementary School who researched the history and economic impact of a variety of fruits on the state of Utah. After gathering the information, the 2nd graders also polled several other schools in the state for their desired state fruit choice. While doing the research, the children discovered a particularly interesting fact about the history of the cherry tree and Utah. After the Second World War, the Japanese sent cherry trees to Utah as a symbol of friendship.
Utah State Fruit – Cherry Varieties
There are many cherry varieties that can be found in Utah – not surprising since its the official state fruit and Utah is the second-leading producer of tart cherries in the nation. The most popular sweet cherry varieties in Utah are the Bing, the Stella and the Utah Giant. All three varieties are hardy, sweet and summer harvesters.
Tart, or sour, varieties grown in Utah are the Montmorency and the Dwarf Tree Northstar. The Montmorency is the most popular sour cherry in commercial fruit markets nationwide and is most often used for pies, preserves and juice.