Cherry, Van –
A plump, juicy cherry is a luxurious treat. Whether you grow sweet or sour cherries, plan to share a few with the wildlife in your area. This is usually not a problem as a mature tree will produce more fruit than one family can consume. When choosing a cherry tree, select for disease-resistance and small size. The smaller the tree, the easier it will be to harvest the fruit.
Sweet cherries grow in the coast valleys of California, near the Great Lakes, and in the Northwest. They thrive where winter and summer are mild. Sweet cherries require a pollinator so be sure to plant two varieties. Sour or pie cherries are easy to grow for most home gardeners. The hardy plants are adaptable and self-fertile — you only need one plant for fruit set.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Tree – Fruit
Pink, Light Pink
Choose a sunny site with good air circulation and deep, well-drained soil. Avoid low areas or places surrounded by buildings or shade trees, where cold air settles.
Plant cherry trees in early spring. Set bare-root trees atop a small mound of soil in the center of the planting hole, and spread the roots down and away without unduly bending them. Identify original planting depth by finding color change from dark to light as you move down the trunk towards the roots. If the tree is grafted, position the inside of the curve of the graft union away from the afternoon sun.
For container-grown trees, remove the plant from its pot and eliminate circling roots by laying the root ball on its side and cutting through the roots with shears. Don’t cover the top of the root-ball with backfill because it could prevent water from entering.
Space sweet cherries on standard rootstocks 35 to 40 feet apart; dwarfs, 5 to 10 feet apart. Space tart cherries on standard root stocks 20 to 25 feet apart; dwarfs, 8 to 10 feet apart. Set trees on standard rootstocks with the graft union a few inches below the soil level. Set trees on Colt dwarfing rootstock with the graft union several inches above the soil level.
Train dwarf tart cherry trees to a central leader. Train semi-dwarf or standard-size cherry trees to a modified leader. Prune trees every year in late winter to encourage the growth of new fruiting wood. Don’t prune in the fall. Fertilize each spring until trees start to bear, then fertilize only after harvest each season. Cherries are susceptible to a number of different disease and insect pests, depending on region. Contact your cooperative extension office for information on managing pests in your area.
The sugar content of cherries rises dramatically in the last few days of ripening, so wait until they turn fully red, black, or yellow (depending on the variety) before harvesting. Harvest as the cherries ripen over the course of about a week. Pick the cherries with the stems attached, being careful not to tear off the fruit spur that will produce fruit year after year.