Fast-working bees could help cherries get to supermarket displays earlier this year

Fresh Fruit Portal

Cherry season is forecasted to arrive early in the UK and the sight of bountiful cherry blossom trees at family-owned Kent Little Sharsted Farm provides visual confirmation. 

This year, the UK cherry season has seen an early blossom due to favorable weather conditions. The fruit is expected to hit supermarket shelves as early as the end of May. 

The country’s cherry season only lasts two months, from mid-July to mid-September, a short one in comparison to other major producing countries like Türkiye, the United States, and Chile. 

Honeybees and cherries

Most cherry trees in the country need to go through a honey bee pollination process that relies heavily on the insect transferring pollen from the flower to the stigma.

Without bees, cherry trees would have difficulty producing fruit. The UK has lost 13 species of bee and 35 are endangered due to urban development, intensive farming, extreme weather, climate change, and the use of pesticides. 

Due to the UK cherry flowers being relatively small with low nectar reward, honeybees are tasked with boosting cherry production. 

Jon Hillary, Driscoll’s Cherry Product Manager, says the weather is playing a really vital part in the pollination process. 

“As we prepare for the cherry season, we’re preparing to see cherry growth a little earlier than anticipated this season,” he says. “However, the cherry blossoms will require warmer, stable weather conditions to ensure optimal pollination. While forecasts suggest an early start to the cherry season, it will depend on whether we see a sunnier spring ahead.”

He also says the organization is looking forward to delivering fresh British cherries to consumers. A report led by the Institute of Bioeconomics of the CNR, with the support of European partners, shows that the cherry is among the most liked fruit in the UK, although the country is not a large producer of the commodity. 

The UK’s cherry industry was affected by unfavorable weather last year, but growers like Sarah Neaves from Berry Gardens Cherry Grower say they’re hopeful. 

“This year’s British cherry blossom really is in its abundance, with our honeybees working hard to pollinate each of the cherry flowers, allowing them to develop into sweet British cherries,” she said. “If the warmer spring weather continues, we could see the British cherry season arriving a few weeks earlier this year. We’re looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.”

Chile’s largest cherry event, Cherry Tech, returns on June 18. The event by Yentzen Group and Smart Cherry gathers the global community of cherry producers to explore the latest innovations in postharvest, crop management and varietal research.



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