Farming year

As consumers ourselves, we understand that people are genuinely interested to know more about what goes into their food and how it is grown. We pride ourselves on providing cherries of the very highest quality and freshness, and a huge amount of hard work and toil goes on behind the scenes to achieve this objective.

There are 8 different varieties on the farm ( Summer Sun, Kordia, Regina, Techlovan, Penny, Sweetheart, Fertard and Vanda ), all with their individual attributes and ripening times. This extends the length of the season by allowing us to supply perfectly ripe fruit for a longer period of time.

We are your archetypal family business, run by two generations of the Mount family. We call upon the brain and (more frequently) brawn of family and friends to help out during the busy times, particularly when putting the nets up and taking them down (April and August).

Here is an idea of what goes into a year on our cherry farm in Apsley Guise!    Location map

SpringSummerEnd of Harvest & Autumn
Spring is the time for applying fertiliser to the land to give the trees the best possible start to the growing season.
Where appropriate, we prune the younger trees in order to stimulate growth.
We carry out maintenance on the tractors and trailers and check the perimeter fences for breaks. Despite our proximity to the village, we have a wonderful array of wildlife on the farm, from Monkjack and Chinese water deer to rabbits and badgers, all of whom like to eat our crop! We have had to install 5ft fences to protect our precious trees!

On the first weekend of April we rally unsuspecting friends and family to help erect the nets over the cherry trees. It is a huge day’s work interspersed with tea and cake breaks. The nets are required to protect the new spring leaves from pigeon damage and, later on in the season, to shield the fruit from all birds during harvest.

April sees the blossom in full swing; it really is a majestic sight when the blossom is at its best. Our local Beekeeper, Gunther, keeps his honey bees on our land which are vital to ensure the pollination of the cherry flowers. Cold weather can affect bee activity so we have also had to bring in bumble bees which are happy to work in cooler temperatures.
The month of May is absolutely critical weather wise. Very cold winds together with rain can have an adverse effect on the setting of the flowers and potentially reduce the crop significantly.

Holes in the nets caused by wear and tear from the elements are sown up and repaired and the grass in the alleyways is mown in preparation for harvest. The cherry trees are checked on a daily basis for disease or evidence of pest activity. A healthy tree produces a good crop, so leaf and soil samples are frequently sent off for analysis. Regular foliar feed is also applied when necessary.

Harvest can start anywhere between the beginning and middle of July depending on the weather of the preceding months. In July we are desperate for sun in order to ripen the fruit and increase what is referred to as the ‘BRIX count’. The BRIX count effectively determines how tasty your fruit will be. Rain can cause cherry farmers huge problems and a lot of extra work!

At the moment we have five varieties that ripen in sequence. (In 2016 our new orchard will add another 3 varieties to our range). Summersun is the first variety to ripen followed by Kordia, a sweet dark cherry. Then it is Penny, a big and juicy variety which is a firm favourite of ours! Penny was bred in Kent and named after a friend of ours. Regina comes next and finally Sweetheart. All five of these varieties are absolutely delicious with sweet and firm flesh. Many of our regular customers know each variety by taste and looks.

As soon as possible after the fruit is harvested, the nets are removed and put away until the next year. Again, this is another big job that calls upon the skill and generosity of our wonderful friends and family.

The big task at this time of year (August-September) is pruning, which keeps further growth of mature plants in check and allows us to shape the tree accordingly. Left unchecked, the branches would be too dense; with the resulting lack of airflow causing disease. The trees also like plenty of light in order to produce good blossom in the Spring.

In September, dead trees are removed and the orchard tidied up for the winter. The buds for the following year’s blossom can already be seen and the leaves start to turn yellow. Over winter, the trees need over a thousand hours of low temperatures so the bud veranalises. No vernalisation means no blossom but luckily the majority of our winters are very cold indeed. There are always jobs to do on the farm over winter but on the whole the trees are left alone until Spring.

Tasks and events throughout the English cherry farming year

Tasks and events throughout the English cherry farming year