Farm Focus: Waiting for the Royals

 

As much as we love the sweet and juicy citrus we've all been enjoying in our Bay Area CSA, we can't help but long for summer fruit and we know we aren't alone!  Thank you all for your commitment to eating seasonally and supporting our farm and CSA. 

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Luckily, our newest cherry variety, the Royal Tioga, will shorten our wait for the first of summer's bounty. We've been planting this new variety steadily over the last 5 years. We started planting them in 2014. As older trees died we have replaced them with Royal Tiogas. In total, we've plant- ed over 500 of this new variety. Since planting has been staggered, not all of our trees are mature enough to bear fruit, but the trees in our initial planting are looking large, vigorous and loaded with blossoms! We planted the Royal Tioga for three main reasons:

1. Self-Fertile Fruit - Most cherry varieties require pollination, meaning a bee needs to visit a flower in order to have that flower set fruit. In a self-fertile variety like the Royal Tiogas, every flower will turn into a cherry. 

2. Low Chill Requirements -  Royal Tiogas have significantly lower chill hour requirements. Each fruit variety requires a specific amount of chill hours for a good fruit set. With climate change, we are experiencing around 600 hours of "winter chill" or temperatures below 45 degrees F.  The Bings, an old fashion favorite, require 900 chill hours, whereas our new Royal Tiogas require 500 hours. 

3. Early Harvest - The wait for the first cherries is shorter. With all the rain this year, all of the stone fruit will start late but even in a late year such as this, Farmer Al is estimating our first harvest of the Royal Tiogas will be in the first or second or third week of May, a week or two ahead of the Brooks.

Of course, as with all things at Frog Hollow, flavor is paramount. The Royal Tiogas have a firm texture and great balance of acid and sweetness we think you will love. Although our harvest won't be huge since many of the trees are still maturing, we are looking forward to including some of these new cherries in your boxes this May. 

 
Farm FocusLael Gerhart