The cherry harvest is here at Castleton Farm.
Last year, we picked and packed 8.5million punnets of premium Scottish soft fruit.
We are well known in the region for the quality of our strawberries and raspberries. But we also grow 50 acres of cherries.
Scotland produces the latest cherries in the northern hemisphere. We are still producing after the US, Canada and England have all ended their seasons.
And we believe we are one of only a few farms in the world picking fresh cherries in September.
Only 5% of cherries sold here are grown in Scotland. Farmers are keen to increase their market share to capitalise on demand for locally-grown produce.
At Castleton Farm, we planted our first cherry trees in 2010. We were one of the first commercial orchard in Scotland.
We grow 10 different varieties, including the sweet dark red Sweetheart and the large and glossy carmine-red Kordia.
All the fruit is grown under polytunnels, which reduces the risk to the crop from the weather.
The cherry season starts at the end of July and lasts eight weeks. However this year’s growing season was severely impacted by the cold spring.
Farmer Ross Mitchell said: “A prolonged period of late frost in April lasted more than 15 nights in a row.
“In general, chill is good for cherries. But at this point flowering had started and cherry blossom is easily damaged by frost.
“However our frost protection system was effective in saving our crop. There is slightly less fruit this year, but what we are getting is much larger and sweeter than ever.
“Cherries are a very climate sensitive tree. And with climate change, seasonal variability will become more and more of a factor.
“We have invested substantially in the Cerasina cherry varieties from German breeder Peter Stoppel. We have exclusive rights to grow these late season cherry varieties.”
- Our cherries are available in our farm shop, and at local Scotmid stores. You can shop fresh Castleton Farm soft fruit online