It’s cherry pie season, and Michigan is the nation’s top grower of tart cherries – the favorite pick for those pies.

Nationally, the outlook for production this year is 222 million pounds. Lance Honing of USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service says much of that is thanks to Michigan.

“Michigan accounts for 182 million pounds of that total. In Michigan in particular, producers are looking at their largest crop since 2018,” Honing said. In fact, Michigan grows about 75 percent of tart cherries and saw a 37.7% increase from last year’s crop. “We did have some freeze challenges that really limited the crop there. So, with that big increase, it is still a very large crop historically and so we’re in great shape for tart cherries for this season.”

This year, Michigan is not only the lead in tart cherry production, but it’s carrying the weight of keeping national sweet cherry numbers up, while other sweet cherry states are seeing their numbers drop.

“[The] total national number, 355,000 tons, technically you could say is up 3/10 of a percent from last year’s production. But if you take Michigan out of the mix since they weren’t counted in the total last year, we’re actually looking at a 5.9% decrease from last year for those remaining three states that we’ve measured both seasons,” he explained. “That is largely because we saw a smaller or we’re expecting a smaller crop in both California and Washington. They are by far the dominant producers of the sweet cherries here in the U.S.”

Michigan wasn’t included in the sweet cherry production estimates for the last few years because of low production numbers. Now that those numbers are up, USDA is including the state in those estimates once again.