Saturday, June 28, 2014

A bumper crop of cherries

I'm always anxious each year to see how many blossoms appear on the cherry tree, as that's one indicator of the fruit yield for that year.  A lot can happen between the budding of the blossoms and harvest of the fruit, but without blossoms, there's no hope for fruit.

Imagine our pleasure this year to see the tree covered in flowers like this on May 4.  I'd been impressed for a week before this as the blossoms seemed to proliferate daily, until by the beginning of May I started being anxious about freezing temperatures.  We've occasionally had frozen flowers on the tree, which kills them in short order and eliminates any hope of fruit at that bud.  Once the flower is pollinated, and the fruit begins to set, freezing is less damaging although we've seen some yield reduction at that stage in the past also.

I checked the fruit periodically in May and was disappointed that a noticeable number of blossoms did not appear to have been pollinated.  I hadn't noticed any bees around the tree this year as in years past, but I wasn't watching closely either.  Was I seeing evidence of shrinking bee populations?  Evidently the bees did a better job than I expected, as the fruit proliferated over the months of May and June at a rate not a lot slower than the blossoms.

God blessed us with no freezing temperatures from blossom to fruit ripening this year, so our crop was the largest we've seen on this tree.  This is how the tree looked on June 18 after about a gallon of fruit had been harvested already.  Knowing the amount of work involved in picking and pitting that many cherries, and how there were far more than we normally consume, we put the word out to friends to come help themselves and many helped and enjoyed the fruits of the harvest this year.  Since we didn't measure the yield we can only estimate that over eight gallons have been harvested so far.

This image proves it was not difficult to find cherries to pick this year.  I don't have measurements to prove it, but it appears the fruit is a little smaller this year than in the past.  Is that a reflection of the limited rainfall we received while the fruit matured?  Or maybe the tree can only produce so much volume of fruit, so if there are more cherries, they end up smaller?  Someone smarter than me will have to answer those questions.

Ultimately, this is the goal: fruit safely off the tree and ready for processing or immediate consumption.  In the end, we have enough cherries for our satisfaction and at least six other families will benefit as well.

2 comments:

The Whitakers said...

Kurt we don't know ANYONE smarter than you! :) Beautiful pictures!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a bumper crop. We had several trees when I was a kid but the birds usually got the cherries before we did. :(

Victoria