Cherries ripe for traditional Melbourne Cup Day season start

Melbourne Cup Day in Young traditionally means the beginning of the cherry season, and the timing is spot on again in 2018.

Orchards in the district are busily preparing to pick their first bunch of cherries, while one has already toasted the opening of what’s expected to be a bumper year.

Ballinaclash Wines and Fruit marked the beginning of its cherry season on Saturday, opening the doors to the public to taste its early variety of cherries on offer.

While Ballinaclash is the first cherry orchard to open, eight of the district’s orchards in total are offering pick your own cherry tours and a further six will have shed door sales.

Most of these orchards will be open seven days a week from now until close to Christmas.

The Early Sweet variety is being picked at Ballinaclash.

Grower Ned Mullany said this year’s yield of the Early Sweet variety is a promising indicator for the rest of the season.

“At the moment the season is looking really good. We’re very happy with the set [yield], especially after last year when it was so heavy... we thought it would have been lighter,” Ned Mullany said.

“It’s probably medium-heavy, we definitely wouldn’t want it anymore heavy because then you lose your size and quality. We’re extremely happy with the set.”

Picking your own is popular among tourists from Canberra and Sydney, Mr Mullany said, and gives people a chance to wander the orchard and pick as many cherries as they want.

On arrival, you will be given a bucket, instructions on how to cherry pick and be shown where to find the orchard’s best cherries.

“Depending on what we’re picking we steer them in the right direction, or we’ll have it marked out where the best fruit is. As the season develops everything is ripe and you can sort of pick and choose what you like,” Ned Mullany said.

“They’re always very respectful of the place and the trees. 

“A lot of people have never done it.

“It’s very easy, just don’t rip the branches because it’s next year’s fruit. Just pick with the stem.”

Jamie Killick from the Young Visitor and Information Centre encourages people looking to visit orchards and pick their own to follow signage on the roads.

She expects most orchards in the district to be open to the public in the next fortnight.