We’re often asked if cherry trees need thinning. So as part of our continuing series about fruit thinning, this week we’ll have a look at cherries.
We recommend that you thin all your deciduous fruit trees except for cherries.
In non-organic orchards, most thinning is done with chemicals. However in your garden or backyard (where you want to be growing organically) you’ll be doing it by hand.
Cherry blossom is famously beautiful, and inspires festivals around the world (check out these stunning photos here). But from a fruit growing point of view, one of the most exciting parts of spring is actually at the end of the flowering period. It’s not always possible to tell how big your crop will be just from the number of flowers your tree had.
Watching the flowers dry up and fall off your trees reveals the tiny fruit underneath. After that, any fruit that isn’t fertilised will fall off (called “shedding out”). It’s only then that you can really start to assess how big (or small) your crop will be.
Why don’t cherries need thinning?
Remember the main reason we recommend thinning most fruit trees?
It’s to prevent your trees falling into the “on again, off again” pattern of cropping called biennial bearing. (You can read more about all the good reasons for fruit thinning here).
Your cherry trees will usually have a pretty good crop most years. They are not nearly as likely to have a heavy crop one year followed by a light crop the year after. This is one of the many reasons we think cherry trees are the perfect backyard tree.
Another reason for you to thin most fruit types is to give the fruit enough room to grow.
Again, this doesn’t really apply to cherries. Cherries grow on nice long stems and don’t crowd each other out. If you remove some of the fruit by thinning, you might get a small advantage by letting the remaining fruit grow larger but because cherries are small fruit anyway, the difference isn’t usually enough to be worth the time and effort.
You’re also unlikely to see branches or laterals in your cherry trees breaking under the weight of too much fruit. So that rules out the third reason you thin other fruit.
In fact, most of the reasons for you to thin other fruit just doesn’t apply to cherries, so that’s one job you don’t have to do!