My eight-year old Stellar cherry tree has been shedding more than 50% of its fruit prematurely. I had sprayed leaves affected by aphids with a light dosage mixture of neem oil and kitchen detergent. Would this cause the shedding? 


This is a very frustrating scenario, but you will be pleased to know that it is not caused by anything you are doing or spraying.

The shedding of cherry fruit prematurely is often a problem which is exacerbated by extreme weather conditions such as hot temperatures then dry strong winds, and heavy rainfall followed by dry periods.

Cherries have quite specific growing requirements, which is typically why they are only grown commercially in a limited number of areas such as; Blenheim, Nelson, Central Otago and Hawkes Bay. All these areas have cool winters and generally hot, dry summers. Growing cherries in Christchurch will always be a bit of a gamble, however there will be years when you harvest excellent heavy crops, so try not to be disheartened.

Winter pruning of cherry trees is important, particularly if there has been an outbreak of aphids. Use pruning to open the tree up to allow good air movement and light penetration throughout the branches. This will also help control the aphids.  

A healthy tree is more resistant to pests and diseases. Apply Garden Time™ Fruit & Citrus Fertiliser at six weekly intervals in early spring when plants are coming into growth, until mid-December. Recommence in mid-February through to autumn.

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