William and David Riccini hosted the annual cherry event at short notice at their Bekesbourne Farm site and attracted a good turn out on a mercifully dry evening on 7th July. The planned visit to Mr Henry Bryant’s farm had to be changed due to a family bereavement.
Since the W&D Riccini partnership was formed 15 years ago the business has grown from 40 acres to nearly 140 acres producing apples, pears and cherries with nearly 4,500 bins of top fruit, and at peak in 2017, hopefully 5,000 bins. The Riccini brothers started growing cherries under redundant soft fruit tunnels 8 years ago and currently have 15 acres in the ground with 7 acres under production. There are about 12 acres on G3 rootstock and 3 acres on G5. This year they anticipate picking circa 16 tonnes/hectare on the more mature orchards from Penny, Regina, Karina and Kordia.
The farm tour took in both high and low roofed tunnels both covered this year after blossom which William considers gave them much better pollination and set than previous years when they covered earlier. Society members were impressed with the size and quality of the crop on the mature trees under low tunnels. David admitted he’d told William he would need more pickers than planned next week when they’d assessed the crop that morning.