Written by  Ken Gaudion

More good than harm from recent rain

The rain that fell over most of the cherry growing regions in Australia during the second weekend in November is likely to be of more benefit than harm to the current cherry crop.

Most mid-to-late season varieties will benefit from the widespread rain as soil conditions begin to warm again after a sudden cold spell.
North-east Victoria saw over 50 millimetres of rain accompanied by strong winds. Other areas may have received more, or less rain; and some even had a smattering of hail.
Rain covers
Cherry growers who have gone to the expense of erecting rain covers of various makes and designs will no doubt be checking the results of the packouts from those grown under cover against those of the same variety that were not covered.
They will be reasoning that a rain cover is a sound financial idea that improves packouts, market acceptance and perceptions.
Minimising the risk
There are cherry growers with the same variety in a block in the same location, but with a slightly different soil type or micro climate, that may have a different packout.
Growers with orchards in different locations growing the same variety may have a harvest date that will vary because of elevation and climate.
Be it rain covers, or blocks with different micro climates, or different seasonal timing—these are the options that cherry growers use to minimise the risk of weather damage.
Photos comparing fruit cracking
The photos below were taken on the same day in North-east Victoria. I took them to compare the amount of rain cracking between the different varieties.
Note that irrigation on this block had reached full point a couple of days before the rain, so there was no 'shock' aspect from the tree being too dry and suddenly taking up too much water into the cherries and inducing cracking.
Each cherry season brings a new set of parameters from which to learn something, the sum of which adds up to improved management decisions.

See this article in Tree Fruit Nov 2021