Why do cherries split? Cherries splitting when they are still ripening on the tree is a frequent problem, but the cause is different to splitting in apples. In cherries, splitting is not due to a sudden availability of water to the roots after a period of drought, but rather to the presence of water on the fruit itself, whether caused by rain or irrigation. Water enters the fruit by osmosis, and the cuticle, or skin of the cherry, cannot withstand the increased pressure inside, and simply splits. Some varieties are more liable to split – Bing, for example – while others are more resistant, such as Van, Rainier and Sam.
How to prevent cherries from splitting
If you have one or a few cherry trees in your garden, you may have already organized netting for protection against birds. In that case, you could protect your cherry trees from rain by putting up a polythene cover when rain is forecast. Cherry splitting occurs in the final period of rapid fruit growth, when the cuticle becomes thinner and microscopic fissures form, and so protection from atmospheric water is necessary just at that time.
Ensure that soil drainage is good, because too much water in the soil also contributes to cherry splitting. Only leave the cover on as long as is necessary, because air movement through the tree canopy is essential to promote transpiration that can help prevent splitting.