Thinning cherries … or not?

As part of our continuing series about fruit thinning, this week we’ll have a look at cherries, because we’re often asked if they also need thinning.

Tiny cherries in spring
Tiny cherries in spring

In fact, we recommend thinning all deciduous fruit (well, all the types we grow anyway) except for cherries.

In non-organic orchards, most thinning is done with chemicals, but in organic orchards and gardens we do it all by hand.

One of the most exciting parts of spring is actually at the end of the blossom period. It’s not always possible to tell just from how many flowers your tree has how big the crop will be.

Watching the flowers dry up and fall off your trees reveals the tiny fruit underneath, and it’s only then that you can really start to assess how big (or small) your crop will be.

Cherry flowers falling off to reveal the tiny cherries underneath
Cherry flowers falling off to reveal the tiny cherries underneath

Cherries usually have a pretty good crop most years – they are not as likely to have a heavy crop one year followed by a light crop the year after (which is called biennial bearing).

Plus, they grow on nice long stems, so don’t crowd each other out. It’s also pretty unusual to see branches or laterals in cherry trees breaking from the weight of bearing too much fruit.

In fact, most of the reasons we thin other fruit doesn’t apply to cherries, so that’s one job we don’t have to do!

4 thoughts on “Thinning cherries … or not?”

  1. Hi there! Love your weekly tips. Wanted to let you know about my grafting experiment. I have a 5 year old Stella which put out lots of suckers one of which looked particularly healthy however last year fruited with tiny pip and skin cherries. I didn’t realise the original was a grafted tree! I decided to try my hand at grafting my other varieties onto the ‘feral’ tree and so did 2 each of stella, lappins and sunburst and all were successful. Two of the grafts have blossomed and are bearing a few fruit. Can hardly wait for them to ripen. Next season I’m planning to ‘rework’ the whole tree. regards.

      1. Hi Carol – sounds like a great experiment, and very successful, so well done, it’s so satisfying getting a brand new tree for free. Congratulations.

      2. You’re right Tony, unless you specifically buy a rootstock tree, then any tree you buy will be a grafted tree. Then if they put out a sucker (from below the tree), you get a rootstock tree for free (as long as the sucker has roots, of course!).

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