Will Bing and Utah Giant Cherries Pollinate each other

dgsgardens(Z9 - SFo East Bay Area)March 26, 2008


Newbie here and a beginner taking up gardening in my backyard.

Am in Oakley/Brentwood, CA. Zone 9. For those of you who are not aware of these cities, they fall in the San Francisco East Bay area.

Just got Bing cherry and Utah giant cherry trees from Costco. Both require cross pollination. The Bing label lists only Lambert, Rainer or Van varieties as aceeptable pollinators. Utah Gaint lists Bing as one of its acceptable pollinators.

Almost everywhere I read on the web, only the above 3 that appear on the Bind label are listed as pollinators for Bing.

So the question is whether the Bing will be pollinated by the Utah Giant as well or would I need another pollinator?

Have one more question.

I bought the cherry trees from Costco yesterday (Haven't planted them yet, but did water them immediately). These are from the Coiner Nursery and are grafted, about 6+ feet tall (no leaves yet) and are in a 10/15 gallon container. The label doesn't say dwarf/semi-dwarf - so I think it's a standard tree.

But I happened to visit Lowes on the way and noticed that Lowes had the Bing and Stella in Semi-Dwarfs for much cheaper than Costco and the trees already had lot of green on them. They were a smaller root stock though. The Lowes one year plant guarantee policy is very attractive and is what putting me in a dilema.

Should I keep the ones from Costco - More mature, larger rootstock, Much taller trees. Overall more mature.


Should I get the ones from Lowes - Cheaper (are $23 versus $37 at Costco). Already thriving and better cared for in the Lowes garden center than Costco would have theirs. One Year guarantee. Disadvantages - Smaller, younger rootstock (5 gallons). I don't if semi-dwarf would be a disadvantage. Would semi-dwarf mean lower yields, slightly altered taste?

What are your thoughts?

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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

dgs, good that you found this forum.

It depends how big a tree you'd like them to be. For me, there are also nice selections at Home Depot, but the bare root season is over, and there are only potted plants like those you saw in Lowe's.

If you want bigger trees, be prepared to wait really really long time, like seven years before they bear fruit on standard rootstocks. I am able to grow cherries and keep them in pots, and they are multi-grafted too, but they are on ultra-dwarfing rootstock. If you plant them in the ground, they'll grow bigger if left unpruned. So it depends how large a tree you'd like. I myself would prefer the ultradwarf for trees planted within the yard for ease of maintenance and harvest but I love the standard ones planted at the border to create privacy within the yard.

Either way can't be wrong, it depends on your overall objectives. You should be able to graft pollenizers, and I don't think that you will have a problem.

Usually most self-fruitful cherries are excellent pollenizers for the others, thus you should get two kinds of such cherries that would create an extended duration of bloom time between them. Some common problems with the other cherries is that their pollens are not viable or are incompatible with their own stigma. This is to encourage open hybridization for better adaptation, and so it is no wonder why we could have potentially gazillion different kinds of cherries if we wanted to. The self fruitful cherries definitely have viable pollens and are therefore excellent pollenizers to other pollen sterile cherries. Not only are the viable pollens needed, but also the timing of the blooms. The viable pollens must be available when the destination stigmas are receptive.

At Lowe's and Home Depot I have seen this self-fruitful cherries: Self-fertile Bing, Stella, Lapins.

The self-fruitful Bing Cherry can be an excellent pollenizer of Utah Giant, and so are Van and Rainier Cherries. I would search for the Self-Fruitful Bing. If you can't find it from Lowe's find it from Home Depot. If all else fails, contact me January next year for scionwood.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 1:41PM
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dgsgardens(Z9 - SFo East Bay Area)

Hi Joe,

Thanks for the post. It helps, just as your responses on my Citrus queries on http://citrus.forumup.org I go by the name "DGS" there. Actually I PMed you sometime back on http://citrus.forumup.org before I had checked your response here. The PM was seeking links to resources you might have on cherries and some online fertilizer stores. I have found some info on the http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/cherry.html which I believe comes from the University of CA - Agriculture sources and they have some pointers on some other fruit trees as well.

The Bing from costco - the label did say that it needed cross-pollination meaning it does not have viable pollens. The Utah there was listed as self-fertile so I was hoping that it would pollinate both - self and the Bing. But all material on the web that I could find did not list Utah as a pollinator for the Bing. Maybe the lists were really the "best suitable variety" pollinators and not really a all pollinators.

Yes, I think the Bing at Lowes was self-fertile but was a semi-dwarf and appeared younger overall (even though "greener" and much better branched out)

Maybe - a big maybe (coz. I kinda like the standard size of the Costco trees), I will get the self-fertile Bing (though semi-dwarf) from Lowes and keep the Utah from Costco.

Thanks for the offer on the scionwood. I might take you up on it if I decide to keep the infertile Bing from Costco. I will then graft the scionwood of the fertile variety on that one if it might be a good idea.

Gardening is becoming very demanding for me and my family as we hadn't planned in advance, nor had we researched source of trees (as we didn't before hand who sells what, from what sources, what maturity levels and at what prices) and now are running out of time for this year. The thought of loosing a whole year is more disturbing and I would rather take chances this year. I am hoping it's not too late for planting.

After I am done, I will have the following fruit trees (All standard, apricots and almond own root and everything else grafted):
1 Washington Orange
1 Late Navel Orange (Don't know the variety yet, couldn't connect to nursery yet)
1 Nonpareil Almond
1 Blenheim Apricot
1 Moorpark Apricot
1 Desert Gold Peach
1 Bing Cherry
1 Utah Giant Cherry

Other trees I just got:
1 Japanese Maple - Sangu Kaku (about 4 feet high - 15 Gal)
2 Jasmine wines (I am still looking for the Mograw
4 roses

We (Me, my wife and our 4 year old in her capacity) are very excited about the prospect of turning our completely bare (but for the weeds) backyard into something that has more life and green in a couple of years - albeit all the current green we are getting is seasonal - except for the oranges. We will take up the Winter ground cover projects later and the what we are getting now gets the priority on ground space.

Sorry for the ramble....but it feels good to share the excitement!

P.S. Would you happen to know which rootstock the cherries from Costco (Coiner Nursery) typically have? I have written to them and waiting to hear back.

Thanks -:)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 3:57PM
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dgsgardens(Z9 - SFo East Bay Area)

Oh...forgot to mention the lime in the list of trees.

Boy, I am acting like my 4 year old now. -:)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 4:01PM
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dgsgardens(Z9 - SFo East Bay Area)


I was pondering over your response above and have a question. When you say:

"If you want bigger trees, be prepared to wait really really long time, like seven years before they bear fruit on standard rootstocks"

You really mean on ownroot/bareroot right?

The Grafted ones regardless of whether they are standard/Semi-dwarf/dwarf should bear slightly earlier, right? If so, then I am definitely keeping the Bing from Costco even if it's infertile as it's an appears to be an older rootstock - 15 Gallons and with roots coming out of the drain holes versus the 5 Gallons from Lowes. I will check with you on the scionwood for the self-fertile Bing later this year.

Thanks. -:)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 4:32PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Though there are some cherries which Bing will not pollinate (including itself), I don't think that regular Bing has sterile pollen. The page linked below lists Bing as a pollenizer for Utah Giant, just as your label says.

Bloom times may differ for various varieties, depending on climate and chill requirements for each variety. Thus, self-fertile Stella is said to pollenize Bing except in mild climates, where it may bloom at a different time. I sometimes refrigerate some branches of an early-blooming fruit variety (just as a florist would) in the popcorn stage and bring them out when the later variety blooms, or bring a few branches of the late variety into the warm house (in a vase with water and lemon-lime soda) to force them to bloom earlier. I then place the vase and branches in the tree I want to pollenize.

This list also says that Lapins is sometimes sold as "self-fertile Bing", though there may be other varieties similarly sold as "self-fertile Bing". For many people, Bing represents a type of cherry, rather than a specific variety.

Bing is also listed as a pollenizer for Utah Giant on this link. Utah Giant may be an acceptable pollenizer for Bing which has never been tested for its pollenizing ability with this variety. All of the varieties listed as pollenizers for Bing on your label are older than Utah Giant.

As Joe suggests, another variety (either self-fertile or a variety such as Van which is know to be a good pollenizer) would be good insurance. If you want to extend your season, you might look into the new, self-fruitful, firm late fruiting variety "Skeena". Or choose a light-colored cherry for variety. If you keep the trees small, you can fit in more varieties.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dave Wilson backyard cherries

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 4:51PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

I have trees on Mahaleb and Mazzard, that were used as standard rootstocks, not knowing any better a long time ago when I started planting fruit trees. Those trees did not bloom until after 7 years! They were giant size when they started blooming, but those were planted in our rental property. I get fruits enough to make 15 gallons of cherry wine, after a cherry picking party with friends. I'm waiting for them to die so that I can replace them with semi-dwarf. My friend, a hobbyist wood carver wants those logs from cherry trees.

The ultradwarf are the earliest to bear, then the semi-dwarf.

Most master gardeners from California would recommend smaller sized trees as these grow with more bigger than the trees in bigger containers. They grow faster too. So I tend to buy the trees in smaller containers. And indeed they can overtake the growth of those trees in bigger containers provided that they have the same cultivar and rootstocks.

The same is true with ornamental trees. Although the bigger sized containers will have a head start for a few years, those in the smaller containers usually will outgrow them.

I may even have some cherry wood in my bin, I'll check. If you buy potted trees that are already growing nicely, you can graft unto them now.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 4:52PM
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Bing and Utah Giant will pollinate each other. As long as you plant both of them, they will pollinate each other. There is no reason to make it overly complicated.

I would not be overly concerned about the age of the roostock. By that I believe you are referring to the size of the tree as it currently exists. I am sure they will all grow well of they were currently cared for.

You said you have " semi-dwarf " rootstocks. Does your label actually state the type of rootstock you have purchased? I have seen many different types of cherry rootstocks labeled "semi-dwarf" and I believe that sometimes that label is misleading. I have tried almost every type of cherry rootstock and I prefer the non dwarfing rootsrocks myself, at least how they how they perform in my area.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 4:52PM
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dgsgardens(Z9 - SFo East Bay Area)

Thanks everyone for the responses.

Honestly, I think I am confused on whether the Utah is self fertile or not. That explains the contradiction on Utah's self-fertility between my first and MY second post (third in the thread) here. I will check the labels again tonight to see if they are just self-sterile but will fertilize other varieties.

If they are indeed just self-sterile but can pollinate other than self-varieties, I think I will just stay with what I have and follow Carolync1's suggestion for manual pollination methods (if the two indeed bloom at different times - I believe I read somewhere that they actually bloom at the same time - more so since Utah can take Bing as a pollinator)

Your post is reassuring that the two varieties I have will pollinate each other.

As for the rootstock - When I spoke of age - I meant the age of both - the tree AND the rootstock, but primarily the latter. The rootstock on the Costco versions is more older, larger than the one's at lowes. And so is the tree. I was thinking that a more mature rootstock will afford more vigour and early bearing compared to the plants with a smaller, younger rootstock at Lowes.

The follow-up question that I asked to Joe was to clarify whether the standard-grafted would bear earlier than standard-ownroot as the grafted plant will already have thriving, more developed roots.

It's now clear from Joe's last post that a standard plant - grafted or ownroot - will bear later. The Semi/Dwarf would bear earlier.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 6:10PM
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" It's now clear from Joe's last post that a standard plant - grafted or ownroot - will bear later. The Semi/Dwarf would bear earlier. "

I am not sure you can make this conclusion. It depends on what type of rootstocks you are comparing. If you have dwarfing rootsocks like Gisela or GM61, yes, they will produce earlier than Mazzard or Mahaleb. But you if purchased something on Colt or Mahaleb that was labelled semi-dwarf, and you are comparing that to Mazzard, then there really isn't much of a difference. I know sometimes with these big chain stores, the rootstock information is not given. In the past, that is one of the reasons I have not purchased from these types of outlets.

I was just looking at your list. You noted a non-pariel almond on its own root. Did you start the tree from seed? Non-pariel as all other almonds require a pollinizer. So if you really do have a non pariel almond you are going to need another type of almond.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 6:33PM
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Just a few comments, Lapins is "Self Fruitful Bing" this is copywrite name held by the Pacific Grove Nursery in Oregon. Which I might add also owns the name "Ultra Dwarf". I believe that the rootstock they are calling Ultra Dwarf is GM61,rated at 65% of standard or above 25 feet. My personal feelings are that only the Gisela 7 that I have worked with is a true dwarfing cherry rootstock (keeping the tree below 10 feet with no pruning) And the trees that I have grown on it grow werd(not recommended). Although I still have one in a 24" pot that is 7 years old and still producing fruit(Ugly as hell but fun). As for all of the other cherry rootstocks I have worked with none are even close to what I would call dwarf. On the other hand I have kept the height of trees on many other types of cherry rootstock well under 10 feet by pruning. Also by pruning I have got Mazzard to fruit within 3 years and the trees at 10 years old are 8 feet tall, with pruning. See if you can Google "Spanish Bush technique" For growing Cherries. This UC Davis study done in the 90's talks about aggressive prunning of cherries for size control and to set fruit sooner. I am not sure if the info is still accessable though.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 9:47AM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Ed, thanks for chiming in. It is hard for me to get the Gisela series of rootstocks. But there are many other rootstocks sold by many online stores. From pears to cherries.

I have been trying the recently available Krymsk 1 and Krymsk 5 or VVA1 and VVA5 rootstocks myself. Ordered more than 10 rootstocks of these from online about a couple years back. These are said to be true ultradwarf. The growth of these rootstocks on without grafts is quite slow, potted or inground, so it could also be a true ultradwarf as well, at least in my yard. (Under same yard conditions and care the high quality Semi-Dwarf labeled fruit trees that I bought from DWN would have grown 6-8 ft per year. And as recommended, I've pruned them after fruit harvests). If Gisela series were available at the same size as rootstocks, I would have evaluated them side by side for my own pleasure. Too bad that the only available Gisela rootstocks are big 3-4 year old trees and would costs about $16 each incuding the unwanted cultivar on top of it. So cannot tests those.

Based on my own grafting tests on both the Krymsk 1 and Krymsk 5, they both seem to be graft compatible with sweet cherries, sour cherries, myrobalans, nankings, apricots, peaches, European plums, Japanese plums, native American Plums, Russian Plums, Apex plumcot and most other non-patent stone fruits, and the trees seemed to be small but very precocious. I know without a shred of doubt that these rootstocks would be graft compatible with pluots, apriums, and other stone fruit hybrids developed by Zaiger. But too small of a tree is also not desirable. It's still too early to tell about their performance, as I've got them only a couple of years ago.

Has DWN done any tests with Krymsk series of rootstocks? Although they are patented, it seems that the patent owners are also research stations in Russia and very reasonable to talk to in case their rootstocks are used for mass production, and so commercial patent costs would not be a major hurdle. It is good to have genetic diversity of rootstocks also.

It is also great that I saw DWN trees sold at Home Depot stores last year. I hope it will be done again this year. Many people don't know about the excellent new cultivars from DWN and majority of people would just buy fruit trees from big box retail stores including CostCo.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 10:55AM
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dgsgardens(Z9 - SFo East Bay Area)


No I did not start the non-pareil almond from a seed. It's from Costco (I believe Coiner Nursery) and was a bareroot purchase. It appeared to be a branch cutting that was rooted.

Unfortunately the tips on all the terminal branches on the almond seem to be dying back and I am not sure whether it will survive. It's been 3 weeks that it's been planted (7+ hours direct sun) but not sign of any buds opening. No leaves. Nothing. They only had the non-pareil at that time. I wanted to buy another almond, but since this one is having a tough time, I am not sure about getting another.

Actually I am having bad experience with 5 out of 7 bareroot plants from Costco. Above stated almond may not make it. And I had bought 4 barerroot roses from them (By Jackson Perkins) and all 4 of them developed canker. 2 of them actually had fungal infections on the roots when I opened the root wraps. I just washed the roots and treated them with fungicide hoping for the best.

And all of this after picking the plants up relatively early in the season from Costco, soaking the roots overnight in room temperature water, planting them per instructions and regular irrigation (not timed, but need based - am checking the soil every single time before watering).

I already spoke with Jackson and Perkins on the roses and they asked me to take them back to Costco. I spoke with Costco and they said I can bring them back anytime within a year. I want to give the roses some more time and see what happens (I hate returning stuff to Costco - given their low prices and everything!). The infected branches on the roses have been pruned but it might still be a problem coz. the main stems are infected too. I am currently treating them systemically and had even sprayed them before beginning the systemic treatment.

If they do show some growth, at least enough to give me a branch or two at the end of season for rooting, I might keep them - even if it will set me back by a year or 2. Two are patented, so I will need permissions from the hybridizer - which I am not sure how easy it will be. Let's see.

I have a visit planned on the 6th to a nursery in Fremont, CA (Regan's Nursery). I might pick up some more roses from there and if they have the almods and lime - then I might pick those up too. I will give the current almond tree I have until then.

Edlo - Thanks for the tip on pruning. I will look it up on google.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 11:07AM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)


Edlo is Ed Laivo of Dave Wilson Nursery. He surely is the most knowledgeable of fruit trees, especially about the trees from Zaiger genetics such as pluots, apriums, and the other regular fruit trees. I strongly recommend that you add pluots to your collection. Just a dramatized statement "You will be missing out a lot if you don't try them especially that you're in one of the good places to try them in California".

Ed and his gang are giving out regular lectures and fruit tasting events in the Bay Area. Make time to go to one of their events, bring the family to get their opinions on the taste tests too. You can check out those events below, just find the one closest to you and then get over there:

Here is a link that might be useful: DWN Calendar of Events

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 11:38AM
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dgsgardens(Z9 - SFo East Bay Area)

Joe wrote : "Edlo is Ed Laivo of Dave Wilson Nursery"

Thanks Joe -:)

Hi again Ed! -:) This is Dinesh - a "Budding" Backyard gardener. -:)

I have come across the DWN website during a couple of google searches and have found the website to be very informative.

I will be heading down to the Regan's nursery in early April and will look for some potted fruit trees by DWN (Joe seems to think highly of DWN cultivars and that speaks volumes of trees from DWN)

Joe's mentioned Pluots and Apriums more than once to me so I HAVE got to try those - I will see if I can find some Dwarfs from DWN there. And I still want Almonds.

I will check out DWNs calendar.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 2:32PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

they will be updating their calendars. the only items that are there about an hour ago are the events for Southern California. There will be events there for Northern California. As soon as the bare root season winds down in the US.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 2:49PM
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If you did purchase a non-pariel almond. Then you will need a different almond as a pollinizer. Carmel is a good pollinizer for Non-Pariel assuming your tree makes it. Almonds are hardy trees and grow like crazy.

I tend to agree with Ed Laivo. I stick to to the Mazzard/Mahaleb rootstock and there are things you can do to get them to produce earlier and keep the trees small.

I am not a big fan of the dwarfing rootstocks anyway. I have experimented with Gisela 5, Gisela 6, GM61. The dwarfs don't anchor worth a darn and don't make as good trees. Under draught conditions, they stress too easily. The Gisela 5 can overproduce, even with heavy pruning and produce a bunch of runts. I question how well some of these other dwarfing rootstocks will work. They become all the rage when first introduced, but then fizzle when problems start occurring years down the road.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 4:27PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

I am sure that there are many appropriate uses of various cherry rootstocks and it depends if you know them to exactly match your objectives given the limitations of your growing conditions. Too often we have different objectives in growing our fruit trees, both short term or long term, so the more choices you have that have different characteristics the better. What is not considered good characteristic or a problem to one could be an excellent application to another. That is why your growing objectives are the most important. Too often commercial growers and people with vast tracks of lands have dramatically different objectives than those living in urban lots with itty bitty backyards that are sheltered from strong winds.

And one should not impose any recommendation to another, it will not be necessarily observed anyway. So know what you want, and we can give examples of what are available and for you to decide what to use. You don't need to take our word for it.

But have fun growing fruit trees. It is always exciting to try various methods and trying out various kinds of fruit trees. Fruit trees are not one time deal, one should not just plant them, then forget about them and expect the fruits to come to the fruit bowl. The excitement is in the process of observing them grow, how they respond to you, knowing the exact times of their peak flavor, the maintenance of the trees, and many other exciting activities.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 10:47AM
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I am a both a commercial grower and home grower. And while differences exist, there are many practices common to both even though there may be underlining differences why a particular method may be used. I think it is alittle overly simplistic to suggest that one is different from the other and therefore you can ignore the experiences of one versus another. Both share the soil, sun, and water. And trust me, not all home gardens are secluded from the wind. Not all home gardens are tiny subdivision backyards with a thousand trees jammed in it either.

As far as these dwarfing cherry rootstocks go, I have tried various ones and have heard reports from various people. Just because they did not work well for me, does not mean they will not work for others. We have a unique environment here. In our area in particular, the dwarfing rootstocks do not do well. My own field representative at my nursery which sells dwarfing cherry rootstock has told me the dwarfing roostocks do not do well and are not sold around here.

Again, I sometimes question how well a rootstock that was brought from Europe will do here. With Cherries, for example, my nursery representative has informed me that many of the varieties that do well in Washington have not done well here in Central California. The Mazzard and Mahaleb rootstocks have withstood the test of time and are still popular. I would agree with Ed Laivo that you can get standard type trees to produce faster and can prune them to make smaller trees. I have seen it done.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 11:16AM
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