France will be the world’s 17th largest cherry producer in 2021, with a production of 15,000 tonnes of cherries. This represents a total of 8,200 hectares of land dedicated to cherries.
The harvest has been falling for several years due to pests and frost damage. Europe’s decisions are having a direct impact on the sector, with the withdrawal of chemical protection, leaving producers at a dead end.
The cherry is a red fruit with a fragile flesh. There are two harvesting techniques in France: hand harvesting and mechanical harvesting.
Harvesting by hand is a time-consuming technique that requires meticulous attention to detail. Once in the tree, to pick the cherries, you have to be very careful not to damage the fruit and the bud that is already there for the following year. Lack of attention can break the fruit bud, which will damage the fruit shoots in subsequent years, as it is from this bud that the fruit will develop.
What’s more, when harvesting, care must be taken not to damage the cherries. You mustn’t pull on the fruit, compress it in your hand, etc.
A quicker method of harvesting is to spread large nets lengthways under the trees and shake off the branches by hand. What has fallen is then collected and placed in palloc bags.
Automated farming plays an important role in speeding up and facilitating the cherry harvesting process. The machine accompanies man at harvest time, enabling farmers to work faster and more efficiently.
With the help of a tractor designed for mechanical harvesting, the trunk of the tree is grabbed and shaken for a few seconds to allow the fruit to detach from the branch without damaging next year’s buds. This efficient and rapid method (2 trees harvested per minute) requires subsequent monitoring of tree rooting. The cherries are transported directly to the back of the tractor in a palloc filled with brine.br>
Imported from the United States, only 5 of these machines exist in France.
Fruit growers couldn’t harvest without it, and yet it’s one of the biggest risks. During the flowering stage, cherries are subject to the vagaries of the weather. Periods of frost have a severe impact on the trees, and the cold burns the budding blossoms. This greatly reduces harvests. This has been the case for several years. Between 2020 and 2021, harvests in France were halved, largely due to frost, from 30,000 tonnes of product to 15,000 tonnes.
This loss during flowering is exacerbated when the fruit ripens. The red fruit fly, where Drosophila Suzukii, is the main pest of cherry orchards. This fly is responsible for up to 95% of crop losses. What’s more, the current situation in the cherry sector is complicated. Today, the only existing crop protection solutions are chemical. Although this is a great step forward for our agriculture, we need to be able to offer producers alternatives that will enable them to produce good harvests at the end of the season.
This is where CEARITIS comes in. we offer an innovative biocontrol solution against Drosophila Suzukii. Current solutions will no longer be able to be used in a few years’ time following the latest European directives. To meet the protection needs of the industry, we are testing and developing an alternative solution that is effective and profitable for growers.