This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol3", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
According to the returns of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries (1911), there are about 12,000 ac. of Cherry land in Great Britain. No figures appear to be available for Ireland, and there are probably no Cherries grown for profit in that country. Only half a dozen acres are recorded for the Channel Islands, mostly in Jersey. Scotland has about 23 ac, and Wales 30, so that England with 11,952 ac. is really the only part of the United Kingdom where Cherries are grown at all on a large scale. Out of these 11,952 ac, 6570 - more than half -are in Kent. The next most important Cherry county is Worcester with 1287 ac.
The counties having over 100 ac. of land under Cherries may be tabulated thus:-
Kent...... 6570 acres.
Worcester ... 1287 „
Bucks ... 692 „
Hereford ... 410 „
Devon ... 252 ,,
Cornwall ... 250 „
Hertford ... 229 „
Berkshire ... 213 „
Gloucester ... 210 ,,
Middlesex ... 179 acres.
Norfolk ... 152 „
Yorkshire ... 140 „
Suffolk ... 135 „
Cambridge ... 115 „
Essex...... 107 „
Salop ... 104 „
Oxford ... 103 „
Warwick ... 91 „
There are practically no Cherries grown in Northumberland, only an acre being recorded. From 50 to 90 ac. of Cherries are to be found in the counties of Somerset (88), Notts (76), Lancaster (67), Lincoln (65), Sussex (58), Monmouth (53), Huntingdon (51), and Surrey (50).
In Scotland, Perth is the only county with any Cherry pretensions, 7 1/2 ac. out of a total of 23 for the whole country being recorded. No Cherries at all are apparently grown in twenty counties in Scotland, and the acreage in the others is not worth considering, although about 5 ac. are recorded for Ayrshire. [J. w.]
The Cherry, which in this country is nearly always grown as a standard, is essentially an orchard tree. It is but rarely seen in gardens, for the reason that it is practically impossible to keep the birds away from the fruit on a few isolated trees, unless these are growing against a wall and can be netted. In the orchard and on a large scale the birds can be checked with the gun.
The Cherry is the largest of the English orchard trees, and on this account a Cherry orchard takes a long time to reach full maturity. As a rule, the trees begin to produce marketable crops about the sixth year. The crop gradually increases each year, until at the age of twenty years the trees are in their prime.
During recent years the methods adopted in the management of Cherry orchards have very materially advanced. New varieties, some more prolific and others of better quality, have been introduced. Diseases, which in former times were unknown, have increased in virulence, become epidemic, and now have to be combated by a variety of methods. Greater attention is being paid to packing and marketing to ensure the arrival of the fruit in good order at the markets and thus obtain the top prices.
The soil most favourable to Cherries is a strong rich loam of considerable depth overlying a subsoil that allows of a free natural drainage. It is often said that Cherries will thrive wherever Elm trees grow well. To a certain extent this is true; there is no better guide to good land than luxuriant Elm trees, but the second condition, good natural drainage, is not always indicated by their presence. Much of the land in the neighbourhood of Sittingbourne and Faversham, a district famous for Cherries, is of the above description - a rich loamy brickearth overlying a chalk subsoil at a depth of from 5 to 10 ft. A good strong loamy soil that is wet, but in other respects suitable, may be adapted to Cherry growing by thoroughly draining the land previous to planting.
One of the best positions in which to plant Cherries is a Hop garden, provided the above-mentioned conditions are obtainable, because not only can a valuable crop of hops be secured from the land whilst the Cherry trees are developing, but the trees will also thrive and grow rapidly under the high state of cultivation and abundant manure normally given to Hop gardens.
In selecting the situation for a Cherry orchard there are three other points to be considered: (1) The ground should not be subject to late frosts or be exposed to severe winds; (2) birds do great damage by eating the ripe cherries, and since birds are always more numerous in a thickly wooded country it is preferable not to plant a Cherry orchard adjoining a large wood; (3) proximity to a railway station is a matter of importance. Cherries, like all soft fruit, deteriorate rapidly; hence proximity to a railway station with a good service of fruit trains is a great advantage.