Update on growing cherries organically
I wanted to do a follow-up to my July 13 post (“Keeping the birds out of the cherries“) so you’d know how things are going.
You’ll recall I recently purchased some 2”-wide holographic bird scare ribbon in an attempt to keep birds away from the ripening cherries. Well, it has worked great!
While it hasn’t completely kept the robins out of the trees, we haven’t seen any starlings or magpies in there, which is a first. And it’s made a huge difference because we have only lost a small percentage of our crop to the robins.
Because the bird scare ribbon is wider than most flash tape sold at garden centers, it makes quite a lot of racket any time the slightest breeze blows. It’s a rustling sound, though, not an obnoxious sound. In addition, the wider ribbon flashes like you wouldn’t believe, so I’m certain it’s startling enough to the birds.
One interesting thing we’ve observed is that our ‘Rainier’ cherries are much less appealing to birds, which we think is due to they don’t turn red like most types of cherries. So that’s been a real plus. They also seem to be much less bothered by cherry fruit flies than other varieties, again because of the fruit color, so there’s hardly any worms in them. If you’ve been debating which type of sweet cherry to plant, I’d consider these to be huge selling points for the ‘Rainier’.
My husband Bill has been using an organic spray that contains the active ingredient spinosad to deal with cherry fruit flies. That has worked quite well for him although he thinks he waited a bit too long to begin the spray routine.
That’s because he had some indicator traps (sticky yellow traps that attract and catch the fruit flies) hanging in our little orchard and kept waiting to spray until he saw there were some caught in the traps. But he’s now wondering if they were already prevalent in the area. Our ‘Bing’ cherries had more fruit fly damage, although still less than we would normally get.
The sprays containing spinosad are also supposed to work against codling moths, which is an apple problem, so Bill has been using some on our apple trees as well.
We picked the rest of the ‘Rainiers’ a few days ago and decided to pit and freeze them for future use in desserts. That’s what you see in the photo above… I meant to take a photo of the huge bowl of cherries we picked but forgot until it was too late! (Sorry.) We picked the last of the ‘Bings’ two days ago. The pie cherries, ‘English Morello’ and ‘Montmorency’, aren’t ripe yet but will be soon. Those cherries are looking great and since they develop later than the sweet cherries, we think it demonstrates that the spinosad spray has been very successful on them. Stay tuned…