Cherry fruits tend to crack under certain conditions. Rain is welcome when growing crops, but too much of it can be detrimental to cherry fruits. It’s not the uptake of rainwater through the root that results in cherry cracking. Splitting in cherry occurs when the fruits absorb water through the cuticle.
It happens as the cherry begins to ripen. That’s so because the fruit has a significant accumulation of sugars. So, if it’s constantly exposed to extended periods of dew, rain, and high humidity, the cuticle absorbs water. It eventually bursts as it can no longer withstand the growing sugars combined with rainwater. Let’s look at other factors that contribute to cracking in cherry fruit and how to protect the cherry from splitting.
Some cherry scion varieties resist cracking better than others due to their genetic structure and the fruit’s cutin layer.
The amount of water in the soil impacts plant water relations and can also play a massive role in stopping the fruit from cracking. So, you must control crop nutrition and irrigation carefully as they contribute to cherry cracking.
Other factors that play a critical role in cherry cracking include:
- Your crop Load: Fruit cracking is more common in thin crops of bigger fruit than in massive crops of relatively small fruit.
- Hormone administration: Gibberellic acid, which may be used to control plant growth, could cause higher fruit cracking if you apply it at straw color when it’s raining heavily. GA3 limits transpiration during application; nevertheless, transpiration rates recoup within two days. This uptick in crop water content may cause more fruit to crack.
- Increased rainfall occurrences – more than 1.5 inches: Inches of rain, mainly when soils are nearing field capacity, can cause a rise in cracking.
Cherry fruits crack around the stem bowl, where water collects, but they can also split in other places. Some cherry variants, such as Bing, are more prone to cracking.
Cultural advancements may limit cherry cracking. Let us look at these cultural practices and how growers can integrate them into their cherry production systems.
Use of Cherry Rain Cover
You use the cherry rain cover to protect your fruit from the rain. These covers or tarpaulins are composed of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and are waterproof on both sides. UV protection is built into the net material. The UV-stabilized netting protects your vegetation from harmful UV radiation while allowing air to circulate freely.
Structure and size
The rain cover is made of woven material. It’s made of a strong monofilament that gives it considerable tensile strength. When sliced, the weaving resists unraveling. Shade proportion and mesh density are taken into account when weaving. As a result of this arrangement, your garden will have the best air circulation possible.
Rain covers with reinforced selvage and grommets/eyelets at intervals for easy anchoring can be produced to specific sizes.
When installing considers your system, for instance,
- Tunnels that cover numerous rows,
- Tent-like structures made of cable and poles that cover individual rows
- greenhouse-like structures with retractable roofs that cover entire orchards
Also, consider whether you want
- A system to shield the cherry from rain during ripening – a single advantage to production- or a two-covering system.
- A system that also protects against frost, encourages early ripening, and/or makes pick-your-own customers more convenient on rainy weekends increases the return on investment benefits.
Automated systems are readily available nowadays, but they are costly.
Wooden structures are prone to breakage in strong winds. Still, steel poles and most cable structures are not inclined to wind damage if adequately engineered and anchored.
When it rains heavily, water running off the row covers can soak the soil in the root area and cause the fruit to crack due to internal water relations.
Commercial growers can stop excess water from collecting by planting tree rows on raised beds. They can also install tile drainage in the alley of the tractor.
Relative humidity beneath the cover has minimal effect on fruit cracking if you keep the soil moisture below the capacity of your field.
Application of Hydrophobic
For uncovered cherry tree orchards, you can slow down the absorption of water through the cuticle by applying water-resistant fruit coatings called hydrophobic. These fruit coatings are RainGard or Parka.
RainGard should be used under the manufacturer’s instructions. The initial application should be made one month before harvest, at straw color, with successive applications every 7 to 10 days.
You can make more additional applications two hours before the expected rains begin to fall to enhance protection. Wait for a day between applications.
You need to apply it several times to ensure the coating stays in place during rapid three-fruit growth stages. You can also use reliable osmotic salts such as Calcium Chrolide. Sodium Chloride minimizes the osmotic differential between the rainwater on the fruit’s skin and the fruit’s flesh, slowing down the uptake.
You also need to apply them many times because they are soluble and get washed easily by the rain.
Moisture Exclusion Methods/ Use of Physical Structures
Soil moisture management technique just like row covers functions by exclusion: You place a physical boundary that keeps moisture away from the cherry tree roots. Water-impermeable soil covers work by diverting excess rainfall away from the root system and can reduce fruit cracking by 25%.
Soil moisture management can effectively reduce cherry fruit cracking, especially when combined with methods to keep rainwater from collecting directly on the cherry fruit. Growers should install Drip lines under soil covers to guarantee appropriate moisture supply to the roots.
Irrigation necessitates meticulous planning. Drip irrigation can not cause saturation, remarkably, if the delivery rate of the nozzle is lowered to 0.50–0.75 gallons each hour. Please note that
Excessive soil drying, followed by excessive irrigation, can have negative consequences to enhance fruit cracking. You can shorten irrigation intervals to once a week can keep the soil to field capacity.
If you can maintain field capacity with no saturation, your fruits won’t crack, and you’ll get larger fruits. Mulching and enhanced soil organic matter also aid in drainage, though long-term improvement necessitates repeated applications.
Employ Helicopters and Wind Machines
You can minimize cherry fruit cracking via turbulence brought about by helicopter blades. These helicopters get rid of the rain from the fruit’s surface by boosting the localized movement of the air through your orchard. It’s very pricey, but in comparison to fruit loss, helicopters may be cost-effective.
Helicopters fly about fifteen feet above the garden and travel at an average walking speed to avoid wind damage. The downside of this method is that growers should wait for the rain to stop, which can be unpredictable.
The duration of rainwater contact with the fruit surface is proportional to the amount of water absorbed into the fruit flesh, culminating in cracking when the flesh expands more than the fruit skin can stretch. Thus, following rain events, this duration can be reduced by blowing water off the fruit with helicopters or airblast sprayers. However, eradicating rain contact with the fruit through the use of orchard tent covers or high tunnels can completely prevent your fruit from cracking. The method is affordable and sustainable, and you get a return on your investment faster than you thought.
At EyouAgro we know what it feels like to lose cherry fruits due to cracking. It results in massive losses, and a grower can take a while before recovering. We have the perfect solutions for protecting cherry fruit from cracking. Get in touch with us at Info@eyouago.com. We are just a phone call or a text away.