Fresh, homegrown cherries are a gem of summertime. Their deep red color and juicy fruit complement any dish and make a refreshing afternoon snack. Cherry trees, however, require a great deal of work to protect the fruit from birds and diseases before harvesting. Properly protect your cherry tree to reap the rewards of a full harvest.
Cover the tree in bird netting before the fruit changes color. This will prevent birds from targeting the tree for its fruit. Stake the netting down and place it so that it does not touch the fruit. This ensures the birds cannot peck at the fruit from outside the netting.
Apply dry-flowable sulfur to the fruit 20 and 10 days before harvest to prevent brown rot and powdery mildew from killing the fruit. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully with regard to application, as applying too much can damage the tree's leaves and stems.
Apply malathion at a rate of 16 fluid oz. per each acre of trees. If applying to a backyard tree, place some in a spray bottle and dilute according to the manufacturer's directions.
Harvest the fruit. The fruit is ready for harvest once its color is almost black and the fruit is roughly 2/3 inch in diameter. Pull the fruit from the tree with an inch of stem remaining. This helps the cherries remain fresh for longer periods. Freshly harvested cherries will remain good for about a week after picking.