The Orchard And Growing Season
As soon as the sap starts to rise in the trees in late February / early March we start our tree orchard management up until flowering in mid / late April. This involves manipulating supple 1 and 2 year old branches into manageable horizontal positions to optimize cropping potential. We also ensure that the tree has the correct nutritional status to cope with the stress of flowering, and feed it accordingly. We will let you know all about this and everything else we do in the newsletters that we send you.
Just after flowering we put up our cherry netting system which is supported by a series of poles and wires above the rows of trees. These are erected now to protect the developing fruitlets and soft leaves from pigeons which can devastate a crop. The nets will stay on until harvest is completed which also stops the birds eating the cherries when they are ready. The flowering period will last for between 10-14 days depending upon the weather conditions. Once the fruitlet is set, at petal fall, we have our first indication as to the potential of the crop.
It’s now vitally important that we constantly maintain the correct nutrients within the tree, feeding them via a balanced nutritional program. This is achieved through the use of leaf and sap analysis and the nutrients applied accordingly. This process, and general orchard management is maintained right through until you come and pick your delicious cherries!
Once the harvest is completed and enjoyed we’re already starting to think about next year’s crop and will continue to feed the trees to replace lost nutrients from the stress of harvest. This ensures the trees go into the winter as healthy as possible. We also now take down the nets and start the process of pruning each tree to cut out any competitive and vertical branches and ensure sufficient light and air for each tree. This also encourages new growth to replace older branches and keeps a healthy young tree.
During the winter months we spend our time mending the nets, replanting at our other orchards and carrying out general maintenance on the orchards and the farm as well as making our delicious cherry brandy and cherry vodka and attending numerous Christmas Fairs and farmers markets. Hopefully we’ll also find time for a quick holiday before it all starts again!