Due to the fact that we grow the cherries in harness with the weather there are certain issues that are totally out of our control which could impact on the subsequent yield and does mean that the yield will vary from tree to tree. As the yields will vary if you rent for longer than one year the potential good years and poorer years will balance out, as is nature’s way.
Frosts during flowering can kill the developing fruitlet and stop the cherry from setting. However, due to the height of the orchard above sea level and the lateness of flowering of the varieties grown, this is relatively unlikely. Moreover, sometimes frost is a blessing in disguise and thins the crop to produce the optimum amount of full size cherries per tree. In 20 previous years as an apple orchard this site never suffered from a serious frost. In 2008 we were hit by a late frost which caused considerable damage to other orchards in the area, however, you would never have known this to be the case as by picking there was certainly a full crop.
In 2012 we did suffer considerable frost damage which was made worse by awful pollination conditions giving us our worst crop ever which was the same for nearly all crops in 2012. In this situation there is nothing we can do other than explain the reasons behind how the weather has adversely affected the crop – I’m afraid that such poor crops are a reality check that mother nature is in charge and food production is not guaranteed. A poor crop like 2012 is the risk you take for your £50 investment, but such a bad crop is generally a very rare event and in 2013 we were back with an average yield of 13kgs.
June drop – If the weather is too cold or there is a prevailing easterly wind in May this can lead to the fruitlets struggling to grow and eventually dropping off the tree in early June as cell division isn't rapid enough. However, the Gisela rootstock suffers less from this problem and one of the over-riding benefits is that it retains the fruit eradicating this problem.
If due to one of these reasons there is a very small crop there is unfortunately nothing we can do and one would have to hope for better weather the following year. If you rent’ your’ tree for more than one season these seasonal variances will naturally balance out with the good years making up for the below par years. One thing that is guaranteed is that no 2 seasons will be the same.
Rain in large quantities at, or near to picking, can cause the fruit to split. This occurs due to a sudden uptake of water through the root system, combined with rain water running over the cherry and expanding the fruit through osmosis until it reaches its optimum size and splits. The varieties we have planted all have a very high tolerance to splitting and if the tree’s nutritional health is correct this limits the problem further.
The trees are also planted on ridges to direct the excess water away from the root system. Moreover, with the advance in technology and knowledge available we can stop the majority of splitting with good growing practices and maintaining a healthy tree. Even the most extreme of summer rain events will only split a proportion of the fruit and the spoilt cherries can still be eaten, they just have limited shelf life. Also, what a good excuse to make jam, pies and wine!
During picking time in July please keep a careful eye on the weather forecast for TN31 6HS and if heavy rain is forecast during your picking window and you can come to pick prior to the forecasted rain event then this is highly recommended due to the damage that rain can do to nearly ripe cherries. It is up to you to decide when you come to pick your cherries during your given picking window, however in a wet summer it is recommended that you come as early in your picking window as possible as if the cherries have split in the rain they will start to go mouldy very quickly and also spread onto the good cherries making them mouldy in turn.
Please note if you do not come and pick the fruit from your cherry tree during the designated time period, when it will be ripe, we will pick it the day after this period has expired to ensure that the fruit is not wasted. If you have missed the dates given due to not reading your newsletters unfortunately you will also have missed the chance to come and pick your cherries.
If you have rented a cherry tree as gift but provide us with incorrect contact details we will not accept responsibility for the recipient failing to receive the newsletters.