For many, the fruit gathered from local trees in the summer is one of the highlights of the season, so this year’s lack of cherries was a letdown.
“We were a bit disappointed because we wanted to bring cherries as a gift to our relatives near Edmonton,” says local resident Ed Credgeur who has one typically productive cherry tree in his Horseshoe home’s backyard.
Credgeur was actually expecting more cherries than usual this year because of a large number of blooms on the trees in early spring.
But come late June, Credgeur’s cherry trees just didn’t produce and everyone else he knows says the same thing: it was an off year for that sweet fruit.
According to local fruit tree specialist Gordon Watmough, cherry development can get stunted when the buds develop early and then get hit by a cold night or two.
However, he says it was still a surprise this year.
“I was watching really closely and I didn’t think it got cold enough,” Watmough said.
On average, a cherry tree owner can expect a bad year every 8-10 years, he added.
“If you are interested in working with cherry trees, make sure the ground under the tree is not brown, not tilled up because that soaks up the sun and starts the cherry tree too early,” said Watmough.
“It [the soil at the base of the tree] needs to be grassy or covered to reflect the heat back so it doesn’t soak into the ground and start the tree too early. That works.”
“Also, the city water is pretty cold and you could slow the tree down with city water, that helps a bit sometimes, little tricks like that,” Watmough added.
Watmough sees at least one positive from the lack of cherries this year – cherry flies might starve.
“It might be a blessing in a way, the cherry flies might go hungry. And cherry flies are an awful nuisance here… they have been going crazy because there just aren’t enough cherries.”
Other fruit trees, such as the popular apple, can also be ravaged by pests.
Without dedicated spraying and careful pruning, worms will destroy the fruiting process early in the season and the limbs will be bare come the fall harvest.