KALISPELL, Mont. -

Temperatures in the Flathead are soaring as cherry picking season is almost in full swing. Local growers say these temperatures could mess with the start of the harvest.

"At our orchard, we generally start -- I would say -- the 23rd of July is probably an average date," said Bruce Johnson, owner of Buena Vista Orchard near Blue Bay, on the east side of Flathead Lake.

Johnson says the hotter it is, the harder it is to pick the fruit.

"It shortens the amount of time each day we can pick, because we generally stop picking when it's 80 degrees, to protect the fruit," said Johnson.

When temperatures rise above 80 degrees, the cherries can soften, creating a greater chance for squishing and bruising to occur.

The heat can also speed up the ripening process, causing the fruit to be ready earlier and needing to be picked earlier as well.

"Hot, warm and nice weather probably can speed up a little bit ripening of the cherries, and for now we think it will be approximately two weeks more," said Lyudmila Bush who works at a cherry stand on Flathead Lake.

If that ripening speeds up, Johnson says the picking needs to happen quicker. And you need numbers to do that.

"Then sometimes you have to rush to get them off before they get too ripe, and that might mean you have to find more pickers," said Johnson.

Rain is also a major concern. Just a little bit can cause the cherries to split and crack.

Johnson remains confident that his crop is on pace to be ready, as long as conditions hold out.