Picking perfect cherries
CHRISTMAS may still be more than a month away, but cherry season has begun.
Graham Minifie from Cherry Park has picked early varieties and expects the main crop to be harvested this week.
“The advantage we have is we’re probably the first in Australia to produce a high-end quality cherry, which gives us a bit of a price advantage,” Mr Minifie said.
“There should be about five and a half tonnes to pick and sell this year.”
The orchard, located in The Summit near Stanthorpe, has 3000 trees growing four main varieties: empress, merchant, sunburst and lapin.
Mr Minifie said merchants were his favourite.
“(They are) a nice big heart-shaped, attractivelooking cherry with a beautiful, sweet taste.”
Last year, heavy rain a day before the main harvest destroyed 98 per cent of Mr Minifie’s crop, but he’s optimistic this year will be better.
“The water actually splits the fruit so you can see the stone when the fruit is still hanging on the tree,” he said.
“Once that occurs there’s no amount of chemical you can put on … you have to still take the fruit off and dump it.”
Mr Minifie said the final harvest this year would probably occur on about December 15.
“That’s giving you a 10-day period where you’ve got to store them (for Christmas), which may be OK but you’re certainly not going to get the best out of the cherry.
“Best time to eat them is as quick as you can, while they’re fresh.”
CHERRY RIPE: Grower Graham Minifie from Cherry Park orchard has been harvesting his early fruit and says the crop is looking good for summer.