Cherries are a tricky crop to grow and manage. They are unpredictable almost and certainly in the hands of Mother Nature. But let's face it: no matter how big or small the harvest may be, we still love cherries, and want to harvest them to bring to market.
Cherries bloom early in the spring - and like most blossoms, they are very sensitive to cold weather. With the early spring that we experienced this year, many fruit trees bloomed earlier than normal. Then the weather cooled down drastically, and we even had a couple of weeks where the temperatures dropped to freezing temps in the evenings.
Mother Nature was not kind this year, but we made the most of it. During evenings that reached freezing temperatures, we sprayed water on our cherry trees to insulate the blossoms with the frozen water to try to save the crop. (Remember our Strawberry video on YouTube? The same principles apply to cherries.)
After the blossoms were pollinated and the fruit set, the cherries were very small and eventually aborted and fell off the tree.
So, this shows Mother Nature's Power #1.
Mother Nature's Power #2 is rain.
Many fruit growers dread, I mean detest rain during cherry harvest.
Rain can be detrimental to a cherry crop. You can have big, bright, beautiful cherries one day, and after a rainy day, many fruit growers may cry because their cherry crop is no more.
Cherries have a very thin skin that is extremely sensitive to pressure - even the pressure of a light rain shower is enough to crack the skin of a cherry.
The rainfall that we had on Tuesday this week was an awesome rain - it was a steady rain that allowed the water to penetrate and percolate down into the soil. But it was not good for the cherries.
Cherries, in fact, can absorb water through their skin - again, causing them to crack. So, Mother Nature's Power of rain in regard to cherries is two-fold.
After light showers, Rusty, our farm manager, will use the air blast sprayer to blow air through the cherry trees and try to blow off any excess moisture so it won't be absorbed through the cherry’s skin.
We take great measures even to just harvest a little crop. That's how much we love cherries. But really....it’s a love-hate relationship! :)