When our garden starts to bloom, it is the most beautiful and exciting sight.
Because our garden is a predominantly edible garden, those blooms don’t just make our backyard look pretty, they also offer the promise of loads of fresh, organic, sweet homegrown fruit.
As the days of Spring tick by, those gorgeous blooms wither and, if successfully pollinated, start to form the small buds of new fruit.
We love seeing all those tiny fruits emerge and start looking forward to the day we can pluck that first fruit off the tree.
But there is one tree which has been consistently depriving us of this joy.
Our Cherry tree.
The frustrating thing is that it flowers and it fruits, and then it proceeds to drop most of it’s small, hard fruit before it ever ripens.
What Causes Fruit Drop
Many trees will go through an intentional fruit drop once the fruit has begun forming on the tree.
Fruit trees only need to convert one in twenty blooms to carry a good crop of fruit, which means that when more are converted, they often naturally drop from the tree to allow for a more sustainable crop based on the size of the tree.
The whole reason fruit trees create fruit, is for seed reproduction. As we know, better seed quality ensure a better plant, and a trees natural process to improve seed quality is to drop some of it’s fruit, so that precious resources such as water and nutrients are channeled into fewer, better quality seed.
But Cherry trees are usually pretty good at holding onto most of their crop, so why are our cherries falling from the tree before they are ripe?
There are actually several possible reasons why our Cherries are falling too early :
Cross Pollination – Some varieties of Cherry need a pollinator, others don’t. Make sure you know whether your tree is self pollinating or whether it needs a ‘mate’.
Watering Methods – Once a Cherry gains good size it needs to be watered regularly, thoroughly and deeply during the fruiting period. Infrequent, shallow watering can deprive the fruit of much needed water, causing it to drop.
Over Watering – Too much water is as bad as not enough water. Make sure your Cherry tree isn’t sitting in boggy, over wet soil.
Fertilization – Your Cherry tree, like most plants, will benefit from regular fertilisation during the year.
Late Frosts – If your area is hit with a late frost, once the Cherries have started forming, this can cause them to drop as they are damaged by the harsh conditions.
Bird Damage – Birds are always looking for tasty fruit to fills their tummies and the promise of delicious juicy Cherries is as hard for them to resist, as it is for us, so they are often found rustling around in the middle of trees looking for a tasty snack. This can cause the fruit to be disrupted and knocked off the tree.
In our case, I think it’s a water issue. We have a fully irrigated garden but I think for the size of our Cherry tree, it’s no longer getting sufficient water for it’s crop, so the fruit drops.
It is also possibly part of the problem with our Plum trees, which I have noticed are also dropping a bit of fruit. Our garden has come a long way in the last 4 years and they are now much bigger and need a lot more water.
To remedy this, from now on, during the fruiting period, we will pay special attention to giving the roots of all our fruit trees a much more thorough, deep soak each day . About 5 minutes extra with the hose, on top of the scheduled irrigation water should do it.
Have you got problems with fruit drop? Or have you had a problem and sorted it out? We’d love to hear your stories about this problem in the comments below so we can all learn a bit more about how to keep on top of it.