On our farm we grow four main varieties of cherries. These are Regina, Kordia, Schneiders and Sam. Although these varieties were bred abroad, when we grow them here, we still get to call them Irish cherries. When grown in Ireland, these sweet cherries need protection for a number of reasons, and typically most growers use some form of simple tunnel to grow them in. This is because cherry flowers are susceptible to cold winds when flowering, and the cherries themselves are liable to crack and get diseases due to rainfall, and then if they survive all this, are a favourite food of many birds. A plastic tunnel can protect the trees and fruits from all these problems, meaning that instead of getting a good crop one year in five (or ten if you live in the wetter parts of Ireland), you can rely on a crop each year.
In order to grow cherries indoors, it is necessary to have small trees, as a 30 metre tall plastic tunnel would not be feasible. Luckily, in the past few years dwarfing rootstocks for cherry have been discovered and bred. The best-known of these is Colt, but latterly Gisela 3 and Gisela 5 have found favour, and these give trees of about 3 metres tall; ideal for growing in tunnels. On our farm we have almost half an acre of cherries, which are in two separate tunnels. Despite having so many, each summer they just disappear, not to the birds, but rather to the customers, who can’t get enough of our Irish sweet cherries.