Pick­ing per­fect cher­ries

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News - Liana Walker [email protected]­ral­weekly.com

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.”

PHOTO: LIANA WALKER

CHERRY RIPE: Grower Gra­ham Mini­fie from Cherry Park or­chard has been har­vest­ing his early fruit and says the crop is look­ing good for sum­mer.

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