Mouth-watering Cherries

Cherries are without a doubt one of the most popular early summer fruits. It seems like you never get enough of them, and the prices in the stores are so high, why not try growing your own?

Cherries are not the easiest fruit to grow in this area, but they are well worth it if you succeed. Their main requirement is well-drained soil. Half of the trees planted die in the first five years due to bacterial canker and wet soils. But those that make it produce good crops of delicious fruit.

There are two types of cherries, sweet ones and sour ones. The sweet ones are found in the markets. Most popular are the large, black, juicy Bing cherries. Black Tartarian and Van are very similar and make good backyard varieties.

Then there are the yellow sweet cherries. Best know is Royal Ann, but Rainier has proven to be superior to Royal Ann, sweet and flavorful.

Craig’s Crimson is a very fine sweet cherry. It is dark red, with a wonderful spicy flavor. The tree grows about 2/3 the size of a standard tree.

The sour cherries aren’t as bad as they sound. They are famous for making outstanding pies and cobblers. Montmorency is the most widely grown with large, light red fruit that have yellow flesh. North Star is similar looking but has red flesh and a small pit. It is a naturally dwarf tree and is self-fruitful.

Correct pollination is important for cherries. Most sweet cherries require two different trees for cross-pollination. Stella, which makes large, black, richly flavored fruit, and Craig’s Crimson will fruit on their own. Not all sweet cherries will cross pollinate, so check with your nursery to be sure you buy varieties which are compatible. For best pollination, trees should be planted within 50 feet of each other. Most sour cherries are self-fruitful and will set fruit alone.

Sweet cherries become large trees, about 30 feet tall. With pruning you can keep them smaller, so it’s easier to pick the fruit and to cover the tree to keep the birds away. Sour cherries grow only 20 feet tall and are more spreading in form.

When you plant cherry trees, carefully record the names of the varieties in case you need to replant a tree sometime. Make room for cherries in your yard!

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