The first spring we were here, we heard about the cherry fruit fly. The adult emerges from the ground and lays its eggs on the cherries. The maggots then live off the fruit until they turn into flies and winter in the ground to continue the cycle.
Many people around here just eat the cherries until the worms get too big and then the rest of the fruit is lost. I thought "YUCK!" I was not interested in eating worms of any size.
Spraying wasn't an option we wanted to use because we were told that it would be very costly since the flies can come over from the neighbouring trees and yards so we would have to spray repeatedly. We also looked into organic sprays but none were found to be totally effective.
I did research on the internet and came across the following link that looked interesting. http://www.kootenaycovers.com/Kootenay_Covers_2010/Home.html A bonus to me is that Kootenay Covers is a Canadian company right here is British Columbia. (Yah! support local!)
We decided to order bags for our trees and have been using them to great success since then. This is the third year we have used the bags and they are in as good shape as when we started.
They suggest that you install the bags when the fruit is just turning pink. This year we covered the trees the long weekend in May because my hubby came home and we had help. The fruit is just starting to form but the flowers have all been pollinated so it should be okay.
I wasn't able to get photos of the actual bagging process because I was helping. Here we see a large bag on a very large tree. It is getting easier each year because we have been pruning the tree smaller and shorter year by year.
Here the bag is being adjusted using long poles. Last year, my son who is over six feet tall was here so we rolled up the bag and he climbed the tree and unrolled it. I was on the ground with a long pole adjusting the bag. Because the tree was so large, it actually worked better than trying to use the poles to get the bags over the tree.
After the bag is adjusted, you tie it to the trunk with bungee cords. There are four side panels that are attached to the top square of the bag. I pin these openings shut with safety pins so no bugs can work their way into the bag.
Here is the finished tree with all loose ends tucked in. We keep the bags on until the cherries are ready to eat. We then pick one tree completely before opening another bag. We learned this the hard way the first year. We uncovered a tree that was starting to get ripe and picked the ripe cherries. We went on to other trees and when we came back to the first tree later, the cherries had worms.
The bags are a wonderful way to have tasty fruit without pesticides or "added protein". The bag is made of a mesh material that allows sun and rain to penetrate. They do not harm the trees at all.
We also found out that it is better to bag the trees earlier than later. The first year we were here, we had bagged all the trees except one. My hubby had to leave to help with a forest fire for a few days. When he returned, we bagged the last tree. But it was already too late, the flies had laid their eggs and the cherries were full of worms by the time we uncovered the tree and went to harvest the cherries. How disappointing! A whole tree of unusable fruit!