Cherry orchard manager shares farm's tips on pollination

Encouraging a range of pollinating insects will ensure maximum cherry fruit pollination, according to the manager of one of England's largest cherry orchards.

"We need around four million insects to harvest up to 400 million blossoms," said Lower Hope Farm cherry orchard manager Andy Hunter. "We put up nests for mason bees, which are exceedingly good pollinators, as well as for bumblebees, and put in honeybee hives. The bumblebees will stay within the crop. The honey bees will choose whether or not to stay."

The farm's polytunnels raise the temperature underneath by 4-6 degsC, he explained. "That encourages the insects to go in at this time of year, as they prefer it above 15 degsC."

He said a combination of new varieties - the farm now grows 15 - and more importantly new rootstocks have enabled the Herefordshire farm to greatly expand its protected cherry crop. "The (semi-dwarfing) Gisela rootstock will give you twice the yield of the older Colt."

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