Life's a buzz at cherry park

FLOWERING TIME: Cherry Park orchardist Graham Minifie is preparing his trees for fruiting.
FLOWERING TIME: Cherry Park orchardist Graham Minifie is preparing his trees for fruiting. Daniel Elliott

THE buds have bloomed and the bees are busy doing their job.

Cherry Park orchard is in the throes of spring and orchardist Graham Minifie is hoping, with his trees in flower, that a promising early season bears fruit.

"Everything is in flower and we have the bees out there doing their thing and pollinating the various varieties," he said.

"There are about 30 varieties of cherry here and we sell seven of them commercially.

"Depending on their variety, cherries need 800 to 1000 chilling units per year, which is a temperature below seven degrees."

Mr Minifie said early season cool weather had been almost ideal for producing an above average harvest

"I'd like to know for sure, but I'm guessing we must have around 750-800 chilling units and 650-700 gives us a reasonable crop," he said.

"Looking at the Empress variety, which is just about set now, the balance of the varieties should be excellent."

Mr Minifie said he had been busy checking and cleaning irrigation lines, as well as pruning excess branches from some of the 30 varieties of cherry trees growing at Cherry Park.

"I have a feeling because of the cold winter the fruit set will be very good," he said.

"So, in anticipation, I'm taking about 20% of the wood out before it is too late.

"By leaving too many cherries on one tree you get a lot of small fruit and I feel there is no other way to thin cherries than cut wood off."

With harvesting normally beginning in the first week of November and continuing until Christmas, Mr Minifie said after a promising start to the season the weather still needed to be kind.

"The ideal weather now would be storm-type rain events," he said.

"No long rain events will be ideal for cherries, because too much water causes them to split. Harvesting normally starts in the first week of November around Melbourne Cup day and carries until December 24 or 25."

Topics:  horticulture orchard

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