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Thread: Cherry Trees - fruit development

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    NE Ohio - Zn 5
    Posts
    23

    Question Cherry Trees - fruit development

    Hi all,

    This may not be the proper forum for this, but I'm always surprised at the wealth of knowledge on this board, so here goes.

    I have two cherry trees (Montmorency and Early Richmond) that were planted in Spring '01. For atleast the last 2 yrs (maybe 3) they have never developed good fruit. The cherries on both trees are just all pit, and no meat. Is this because they are still "young and growing" and need to get a little older to produce good fruit? The literature I read says fruit can be expected in 3-5 yrs. The trees themselves appear to be very healthy. Both are atleast 10' tall already and have a healthy spread to them. I have pruned them both each winter. Both trees are self pollinating. I fertilize them only once or twice a year, but sparingly. I say sparingly because when I was younger, we had cherry trees that we did nothing to and they produced loads of fruit. We even had volunteer trees come up and within 2 yrs they were also producing.

    What am I doing wrong? I thought sure by now these things would have some cherries worth eating.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    598
    Hi Matt,
    I know how frustrating it can be to expect your favorite fruit and to get disappointed and have to wait for another whole year. Last spring the frost killed off all my pear and plum flowers, fire blight took nearly all my apples, and fruit brown spot relieved me of my peaches. But we did have a super crop of blueberries.

    It is far too hot here in the Deep South for Cherries, but we do grow fruit from the same family (Rosaceae) and genus (Prunus).

    I have several Plum and Peach trees whose culture is very similar.

    Assuming you have already had a soil test and found the Ph to be near neutral, and have determined that you have a good variety for your climate the rest is fairly simple.
    The wrong kind or too much fertilizer will cause a lot of new growth and inhibit fruit. Your soil test should have made recommendations on the type and quantity of fertilizer.

    Once all these factors have been considered, and the trees needs are met, the only remaining causes for small fruit are, too many fruits, or too little water. We have to thin both crops in order to produce larger ones for harvest. There is always the factor that you may be putting too much demand of the root system that is still in development, but I doubt it.

    You will not need to alter the Ph, or fertilize until Feb. so now is the perfect time for a soil test, even if you had one before. Visit your County Agents office and get instructions on soil testing. In that test kit there should be a question on the crop you are trying to grow. If not, include a note and a request for instructions for cherries.
    Last edited by Tom; 12-10-2004 at 01:31 PM.
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    NE Ohio - Zn 5
    Posts
    23

    soil test

    Thanks Tom for the good tip. You're right, I should have the soil tested. Never thought about that. It'll be a good learning experience for me.

    As for the cultivars, cherry trees are pretty common up north here and easy to grow. I don't know that I've ever heard of anyone thinning a cherry crop, but that doesn't mean some folks don't do it. Half the time the birds get most of them anyway.

    I know exactly what you mean about losing lots of fruit last year, because the same thing happened to us. My pears got hit by a late frost too and my peaches and nectarines got hit by fungus. However my apples took a step forward again and I hope to have some edible apples this coming year. The only fruit we got were raspberries and strawberries, so I'm not complaining. Now if I can only get the rest of the bushes/trees to cooperate this coming year.

    Off to the county extension......

    Matt

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