Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, April 11, 1998, Image 24

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    A24-Lanctstar Farmlno, Saturday, April 11, 1998
So Far, Cherry Season Looks As Sweet As Ever
ANDY ANDREWS
i jHnttff Farming Staff
NEW DANVILLE (Lancaster
Co.) —Despite dire predictions of
complete fruit loss and possible
fruit tree damage, orchardists have
looked on their trees with mild
maybe even mildly excited
suiprise.
A blast of cold arctic area
invaded the area in mid-March,
sending flower loven scurrying to
protect buds and bulbs and causing
a lot of worries for apricot, peach,
and cherry growers.
But with growing fruit and veg
etable crops, nothing is simple to
predict
For one grower, Richard Haas
of Cherry Hill Orchards in New
Danville, the cherry growing sea
son looks as sweet as ever.
"The Hoorn looks real good,” he
said during a tour of his farm Wed
nesday morning.
Last summer, farm workers on
the 200-acrc orchard spent time
extensively pruning trees. A com
bination of factors, including the
trees’natural winter hardiness and
acclimation to the growing coodi
During the tour, many trees were blooming rapidly with
little or no damage to any of the buds. Inspections early
Wednesday morning turned up no damage from the March
cold.
Recently, bee colonies were shipped In to help with tree pollination. About24o colo
nies, numbering about 20,000-30,000 bees each, were placed on the orchard.
dons at the New Danville location,
may have figured in their survival
during the mid-March cold spell,
according to Lancaster County
horticulture agent Tun Elkner.
Overall, according to Elkner,
fruit from apricot trees in many
orchards look almost completely
lost because of die fruit’s odd sus
ceptibility. But cherry and peach
growers arc reporting mild, if sny,
damage to the crops.
The same with Haas. Haas has
been growing cherry trees at the
orchard for 35 years. There are
about 60 acres in cherries, making'
him one of the largest sweet cherry
growers in the region.
He maintains about 25 different
varieties of cherries with a focus
on about 5-6 varieties. Haas also
grows about five acres of sour
cherries.
The farm is about 95 percent
pick your own, Haas noted.
While weather has crops about
214 weeks ahead of schedule, the
season should open about June 20
or maybe earlier, said Haas. The
cherry picking season lasts until
about July 15*20. Cherries go for
For on® growtr, Richard Haas of Chany Hill Orchards In New Danville, the cherry
growing season looks as sweet as ever. “The bloom looks real good,” he said during a
tour of his farm Wednesday morning.
about $1 a pound.
During the tour, many trees
were blooming rapidly with little
or no damage to any of the buds.
Inspections early Wednesday
morning turned up no damage
from the March cold.
Several rows were located up on
ridges, many planted on the Con
estoga silt loam soils.
Recently, bee colonies were
shipped in to help with tree polli
nation. About 240 colonies, num
bering about 20,000-30,000 bees
each, were placed on the orchard.
Years ago. Haas completed
work on identifying and planting
sweet cherry varieties that work
for his soil and climate conditions.
Some of the heavy clay subsoil has
proven a challenge in many
cases, good topsoil is used to pro
vide “berms” or ridges few trees to
grow on. The rows are in sod
cover.
Haas indicated there are five
conditions he observes when
selecting sweet cherry varieties.
They are:
1. Do they live? Can they be
productive under the soil and cli
matic conditions of die orchard?
2. Do the varieties taste good?
Are they what consumers want?
3. Are the sweet cherries free
from cracking?
4. b the fruit size large enough?
5. Do they provide fruit early
Last summer, farm workers on the 200-acre orchard
spent time extensively pruning trees. A combination of fac
tors, including the trees’ natural winter hardiness and accli
mation to the growing conditions at the New Danville loca
tion, may have figured In their survival during the mid-
March cold spell, according* to Lancaster County
horticulture agent Tim Elkner.
enough?
If the trees meet those condi
tions, “they’re part of our Big 5
varieties,’’ said Haas.
One variety, “Bing,” is not
grown at the orchard because of
soil and climate conditions.
There are other essential man
agement considerations. Haas
noted that, when pruning, it is
important to maintain uniformity
and get rid of weak or deadened
branches. Last summer, the “weak
wood” branches were removed
from the interiors of trees to pro
vide more sunlight for the cherries
and air flow.
Haas sprays to control brown
rot He uses a balanced fertilizer
spread under the trees.
Haas has fumigated for nema
tode control. No irrigation is used
on the sweet cherry trees.
About 5-6 varieties are persis
tent, cold hearty, and consistently
produce a crop. These persistent
varieties are shallow-rooted and do
well mi the challenging soil condi
tions of the farm.
In one row, no cold damage as
evident Haas said, “All are alive
here. They look real good.”
Along with extension agent Tim
Elkner, Haas opened up several of
the buds to examine the bud’s
ovary. All looked healthy and vib
rant, ready for pollination.
Also, Haas inspected some of
the colonies of bees. One box con
tained about 100,000 bees, com
prised of about six colonies. More
sunlight in the next several days
will help the bees to leave the box
es to do their work.
Haas noted that new trees, com
prised of German root stock, cost
him a lot in simple royalties for the
“use” of the stock at $3 a tree.
Overall, sweet cherry trees cost
him about $B-$lO per tree, com
pared to about $4-$6 for apple
trees.
Cherry Hill Orchards is also
home to about 25 acres of nectar
ines, 20 acres of peaches, 50 acres
of apples, IV4 acres erf apricots, and
1% acres of plums.
Overall, however, cherry trees
are the most challenging to grow,
“no question about it,” Haas said.
“It’s an art form,” said Haas.
“After 35 years, you hope to deve
lop (these) skills to find out
what works and what doesn t,
what survives and what doesn’t"