Cherries ready despite frosts
The earliest varieties of Marlborough cherries are being harvested on schedule despite frosts during flowering.
Cherryland harvest manager Nicola Whyte said they had used helicopters and irrigation to prevent frost damage at their Middle Renwick Rd orchard in spring.
They had called in helicopters three times to keep temperatures above danger levels.
They suffered a small amount of frost damage but got off lightly compared with Central Otago orchards, she said.
"So far so good. Despite the frosts, we've had really good weather," she said.
The cherry crop was about average size because of the cold flowering but they were pleased with the quality, she said.
They started picking Earlise, the earliest variety, on Sunday for markets around the country and at their stall.
Later harvest varieties would be exported to Asia, mainly South Korea, in mid-December, she said.
Kiwi Cherries owner Terry Sowman said their Hammerichs Rd orchard was not generally a frost-prone area.
However, volume had been affected because of the cool flowering in late September.
Rain covers had protected the leaves and fruit from the sudden hail storm that hit parts of the region last month, he said.
They began picking yesterday for their New Zealand markets and their stall in Blenheim.
They planted later ripening varieties more suitable for export three years ago.
However, those trees would not be ready to harvest for another two years, he said.
Patrick McCarthy and partner, Kirsty Winder, are new to the cherry orchard scene.
They bought Cherry Lane in Rapaura Rd in March from Russel Lane, who had owned the orchard for 20 years.
The pair will be picking their first cherries, Burlatt, next week for their roadside stall and the Marlborough Farmers' Market.
- The Marlborough Express