Monday, October 18, 2010

Good bye cherry trees!

One of the fall jobs that has to be done annually is cutting down fruit trees. No tree lasts forever - though some (like pears, apples & cherries) can last a long, long time. Trees eventually get sick, or diseased and have to be removed. I just cut down a Bosc pear tree that was planted back in 1951 (that's older than me!) because it was full of fire blight, an especially bad disease of pears that is hard to control.
Trees sometimes have to be removed because that variety of fruit is no longer wanted in the marketplace. Here are some shots of a sweet cherry tree I cut down last week for that reason.

I actually cut down 3 of these large cherry trees. They were probably planted in the late 1950's by my father, and were still reasonably healthy. But they are a variety of cherry (Valera) that is small and often crops heavily making them even smaller. They are also soft, crack quickly in wet weather, and rot quickly too. In other words they are a pain to grow! (see my blog post from 27 June 2010 "Cherry harvest"). I have been gradually removing my Valera trees but have still kept a few because they are useful for pollination - cherries need other varieties to pollinate & set a crop - and they ripen at  a time when we don't have other cherries to pick. So while I should have kept the chainsaw going and cut down at least another 5 big, old, beautiful cherry trees, I wimped out and gave them a reprieve - at least for another year.

What hurt even more was cutting down an entire row (17 trees) of sweet cherries that were only 8 years old - good varieties too! They were just starting to produce a small crop of fruit. The problem - they were the only cherry trees in that part of the farm and were always eaten by the birds. We had never harvested a single cherry from that row because of the birds, and probably never would. I guess there are several ways we could look at this situation. Because the birds ate from these trees the rest of the farm was pretty much ignored. What will happen now that these trees are gone? We also could have invested in bird scaring devices - bird bangers and such - but I'm not convinced of their effectiveness, though I know they certainly scare me! Or we could have let things be, and never harvest that row but leave it for the birds. In the end I got out the chainsaw and down came a row of young, healthy cherry trees.

We had a similar situation at another farm where we have about a dozen cherry trees. One tree was an early variety that ripened before all the others. We never picked this tree because the birds ate it. But that was okay because they left the other trees untouched - a fair trade I told them. But the last 2 years we have picked every cherry from that tree with out any signs of bird pecks or damage. The reason - a pair of cooper hawks have nested nearby and don't allow any other birds to come around - bad for the birds but good for me!


  1. What are you going to plant there instead?
    Not more beans!

  2. Yes beans - if you are willing to pick them!!
    Or, actually it will be peaches. Trees are already on order.