I have grown cherries for a couple of years now. In the course of the journey, I have realized cherries are faced with many risks.
Throughout growth, cherries are faced with many climate-related risks. And the rain and hail top the list of risks. The risks reduce the profitability of your cherries.
Here are the 5 risks and tips to help manage you.
Inadequate Chill Accumulation
Your Cherries develop fruiting buds in summer. Then the buds become dormant because of shorter days and cooler temperatures in winter. The dormancy protects the buds from cold weather.
Your dormant cherry buds become tolerant to temperatures below freezing. What is more, they will not grow in warm winter spells until they accumulate sufficient chilling. Studies on chilling accumulation by AgriLife research show when enough chilling accumulates, the buds grow in response to warm temperatures.
If your buds do not receive sufficient chilling temperatures during winter it results to:
- Delayed foliation
- Reduced fruit set and increased buttoning.
- Reduced fruit quality
You can avoid the undesired climate or reduce climate impacts through:
- Chemical to break dormancy – you can use chemicals but ensure you seek information on the chemicals and their efficacy
- Variety scion and rootstock selection – Cherry varieties differ in their chill requirement
- Shading/netting – The cherry rain covers and cherry tree netting reduces the temperature by reducing incoming sunlight
- Evaporative cooling- you can use – sprinklers to enhance the chill accumulation
Heat and Temperature
If you are in warmer climates your cherry will experience faster development. This will affect phenological stages and the time of harvest. If the heat accumulates after harvest it will affect the following year’s harvest.
There is a potential negative effect of even slight increases in temperature during cherry blooming.
Besides, there is a reduction in fruit quality if there are temperature increases. These relationships are highlighted by research on the impact of temperature on skin quality and then the effect of reduced skin health on increasing fruit cracking
Thirdly, heats waves affect your cherry growth. According to research, the Cherry industry loses 20 percent of the crop to heat and wonders about future impacts.
So how do you manage heat and temperature in your orchard? Cherry rain covers and cherry tree netting would reduce solar radiation passing to the orchard. This reduces the temperature of your cherries’ leaves, buds, and fruit.
Sprinklers can cool the orchard and delay flowering. Operating sprinklers during warm days in the winter cools the crop and can delay bloom and hence provide a measure of frost protection.
Spring frost is a significant production risk in temperate fruit-growing regions. Sweet cherries start their development in spring and therefore are vulnerable to late frost.
The frost risk is dependent on the:
- Phenology of your cherries
- Weather and climate
- Topography of the Orchard
The warm winter will likely result in an earlier spring bud burst and this can lead to a higher risk of frost and damage to crops.
If the frequency of frost stays the same or decreases, changes in phenology of the cherry crop may increase frost risk due to earlier budburst.
Frost will also occur in a weather pattern of a cold, cloudy day followed by a still and cloudless night. The rates of day-time heating and night-time cooling can affect the development of frost.
You can manage frost by
Irrigation: the water in the soil acts as a heat reservoir increasing daytime heat absorption and increasing night-time heat release. Also, irrigation during the night can reduce frost risk. Overhead sprinklers can be used with good effect to prevent frost damage, but the application rate has to be closely controlled. Too little water and plants freeze, too much water and orchards become waterlogged.
Netting: Netting can reduce wind which may affect cold air drainage and therefore may affect frost risk. Netting can also affect air temperature and reduce solar radiation that passes through the net and to the soil. This could reduce the heating of the soil and therefore the release of stored heat from the soil to the air during the night.
Rain Near harvest
Rain near harvest is detrimental to cherry production as it is associated with fruit „cracking‟. Fruit cracking is also affected by management practices. Generally, locations with cooler summer temperatures have a greater risk of wet fruit.
You can reduce the impact of the rain by:
- Use Meteorology forecasts of a near-future chance of rainfall to inform the decision to harvest more quickly if the fruit is of marketable quality.
- Ensure adequate irrigation throughout the growing season.
- Cherry rain covers can reduce temperature which may be advantageous.
Wind Damage to Trees Flowers and fruit
Wind damage to trees and flowers Identifying the risk of wind damage to trees and fruit and placing it in context. It is very hard to make any predictions of potential wind damage as these events are often linked to microclimate events.
In those areas where the wind is a regular issue grower, cultural practices are already used to reduce the severity and impact of wind damage. Analyzing and evaluating the risk of wind damage.
You can use windbreaks netting to reduce the chance of wind damage but the impact of windbreaks on-air drainage could alter the risk of frosts, or restrict air circulation which is important for cooling and drying.
However, prevailing wind direction changes during the year so it may be possible to place windbreaks to reduce damaging winds without adversely contributing to an increase in other risks.
Hail Damage to Flowers and Fruit
Hail damage to trees, flowers, and fruit. Like wind damage, it is very hard to make any predictions of potential hail damage as these events are often linked to microclimate events.
Treating the risk
You can reduce the undesired climate be avoided or the impact reduced? Hail netting is widely used in horticultural crops. There are many benefits. Hail netting usually has larger holes thus some of the impacts (positive and negative) of netting with smaller holes (eg fruit fly exclusion netting, shade netting) are avoided.
Insufficient Rain or Water from Irrigation
Many cherry growing regions rely on water stored in the soil over the winter and spring period and irrigation in the summer growing period. Additionally, many horticultural pests and diseases are very sensitive to rainfall, humidity, and temperature (both day and night temperature).
it is generally anticipated to be drier in winters and springs with lower confidence in projections for summer. Although rainfall intensity is likely to increase, it is difficult to identify the timing.
This has implications for water run-off because run-off is a function of the size of the main event. Evaporation is the counterbalance to rainfall. There is medium to high confidence in an increase in evaporative demand with rising temperatures. Rainfall varied considerably both between locations and between seasons.
You can use several methods to make the best use of water. For example:
- Improve the efficiency of irrigation method (drip vs spray) and irrigation scheduling including the use of forecasts of rain.
- Direct rain to trees rather than to inter-rows (use above tree covers or on-ground covers. This redirection of rain (freshwater) could also be used to flush the soil of salt build-up as a consequence of saline irrigation water. (See npsi.gov.au) Improve run-off into on-farm dams.
- Artificial covers for dams are available that reduce evaporation losses.
- New water supplies could be sourced. These could include additional dams, pipelines, use of reclaimed/treated water.
- Cherry rain covers and cherry tree netting can reduce evapotranspiration, leaf temperature and increase humidity. These conditions are commonly associated with reduced irrigation requirements
There are numerous climate-related risks to your cherry. It is not difficult to minimize these risks to your cherry from chilling to temperature. But it does require planning. But remember, for this to work, you need to use protective netting.
You can take a bold step to minimize risks for your cherries by protecting them from climate-related risks. Eyouagro is the largest supplier of netting products in the world. They have experience and innovation and customize netting for your needs. To know more about our netting products you can contact or send your order request to email@example.com.