Washington is one of the leading states in deciduous fruit tree production. The cool Pacific Northwest's summer climate and mild winters allow for a long growing season with just enough of a winter chill to make the trees happy and satisfy their dormancy requirements. The heavy rainfall makes irrigation less of an issue than other areas and supplies ample water for irrigation during dry summers. Their deep volcanic soil makes the state one of the most fertile areas in the country for growing fruit trees.
Apples are one of the main agricultural crops of the state. Manicured orchards can be found in the major production regions of the Yakima Valley, Wenatchee in north central Washington and in the Columbia Basin. Most of Washington's apple production is for fresh consumption rather than for processing. The trees in orchards usually are kept about 10 to 14 feet tall for easy care. Most of the maintenance and harvesting is done by hand. Favored varieties include Red and Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala and Granny Smith.
Most sweet cherry orchards are located along the central part of the state, usually on the cooler east side of the Cascade mountain range. This is the perfect climate to give cherry trees the required one- to two-month chill that is needed to set flowers for spring. Although cherry trees can grow to 60 feet tall, they are usually kept to less than 12 to 14 feet for easy harvesting. The top varieties grown are Bing, Chelan, Van, Lambert, Lapins, and Sweetheart.
Pear orchards are in almost every county within the state. Many productive orchards can be found that were planted around 1900 to 1920, evidence of the state's dominance in pear production. Orchards often are located on the slopes of mountain ranges up to 3,000 feet in elevation. The lower elevation orchards bloom and set fruit first, followed by the higher elevations, which extends the the range that fresh fruit is available on the market. The widely grown varieties are D'Anjou, Bosc, Bartlett, Red Anjou, Seckel and Comice.