Starkrimson Sweet Cherry- Bittersweet Pun : )

garedneckApril 26, 2012

I am sure we can all relate to this type of fruit tree experience:

The semi dwarf Starkrimson sweet cherry was planted in 2007 and after several years of regular sprays, pruning, fertilizing, etc. this is the year the tree is ready to produce a crop (almost nothing in prior years) and there are probably 500 cherries on this 16 foot tall and in diameter spread tree. It wasn't easy getting this far as there was an episode of bacterial canker and other issues along the way...

Yes, I have been salivating for this day for 5 years and come to the realization there is no way to net this tree to keep all the cherries for me! So , i am trying mesh bags at a few of the clusters, sections of netting around clusters on branches, etc. but finding keeping the fruit is more difficult than growing it! HA HA HA!

So, should i cut the tree way back so it is only say 8" tall/diameter this winter so next year i can build a pvc tent to encapsulate the tree surrounded with bird netting? Is there a spray i can spray onto the cherry tree now which makes the cherries uninviting to animals , but OK to humans once washed off the fruit? Or just go to whole foods when sweet cherries are in season and leave the growing of non indigenous fruit trees to newbies!?

HA HA the bitter sweet irony of tasting the almost ripe sweet cherries realizing you will probably end up with very few (if any) of them once ripe! Here are pictures:

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I'd cut the tree back and build a shelter over it to protect from both birds and rain. Those cherries are about a month away from peak eating quality. So if you are tasting them already you are giving up a lot of sweetness.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

Here is a link that will be helpful. I have used it on strawberries and my rain gauge that birds seem to think it is a perfect place to poot.

The one on the rain gauge is kind of like a skimpy mop made with say foot long pieces of the fishing line. It tangles near the rain gauge and no bird had pooted since. If you can not do it the way they say to do you might be able to hang a bunch around your tree.

Here is a link that might be useful: Repelling Birds Using Monofilament Line

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 9:20PM
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Ah yes, the "semi-dwarf" fruit tree! I've been hacking back at my Stella for years, not to be able to cover it, just to be able to reach the fruit.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 10:19PM
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Axel(12b/Sunset H2)

I have the same issue, giant cherry trees and very hungry coastal scrub jays that cant wait to decimate my trees. My stella is 14 feet high and my sweet september is heading to 20 feet. You can use Tule to cover a tree that size, I do it every year. You just need big enough pieces and use carpet tape to hold them together. It's very light weight hence it works for big trees. Unlike monofilament, it won't tear through your spurs and branches.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 1:38AM
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alcedo 4/5 W Europe

For twenty five years now I have experimented with sweet cherry trees, till now I can say âÂÂStarkrimsonâ is one of my favorite . In my area nobody has heard about this variety therefore I am proud to possess one
This tree is characterized by being semi-dwarf, I grafted this one on a dwarf rootstock â Inmil â reaching 7 feet in eighteen years now
Requirement a net over it to protect from birds.
So, have a little patience Fully ripe they taste extremely! Qualification: Outstanding

Fully ripe

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:58AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Great looking cherries!! I especially like the last picture, fully ripe. Many who've never had fully ripe cherries and fight the birds and rain might think the second to last picture is "ripe". Mine are best after a couple weeks looking like the last picture.

What other cherries do you like?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 11:07AM
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alcedo 4/5 W Europe

My goal is the pursuit of perfect fruit, so why would I pick too early?
Just a few days delay makes a world of difference in quality.
Tasteless fruit I can buy in any shop.

My collection sweet cherries:
Grace Star
Rootstocks: Inmil, G5 ,Maxma14
Wishlist: Penny, Giant Red

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 11:58AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


I wasn't finding fault with anything you are doing. Quite the contrary I pointed out how good your fruit looked. And I was pointing out to others who might not know what ripe fruit looks like.

Nice collection, but which are your favorites? And where do you live, that would help others evaluate your picks. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 1:25PM
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alcedo 4/5 W Europe

I'm from the Netherlands, near the German border, I can tell you we have a very humid climate, under these circumstances, it remains a major challenge to cultivate good fruit.

My first four favorites are:
Grace star

If I'm not mistaken you can pick ripe cherries soon?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 2:54PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Thanks for the clarification. You mostly have European varieties. The only one of your favorites I might find would be the Stark selection.

Do you do anything to protect your cherries from rain? Many who post here from humid climates would love to know how to grow cherries like yours.

My favorites are Van, Selah, Royal Rainier, and Sandra Rose. But I don't have 25 years experience like you. I've only recently learned how to grow cherries well in my greenhouse. My cherries are coloring up now.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2011 greenhouse sweet cherry report

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 3:03PM
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Above is the starkrimson sweet cherry in bloom 3-17-12 .

Fruitnut- thank you for the tip.
Randy- thank you. the article stated there are some birds the fishing line is not effective against and those are some of the birds in my neighborhood!
Axel- where did you find tulle in that large a piece?
alcedo- i have cherry envy! Thank you for the pictures and advice.

The easiest approach seems to be cutting the cheap black plastic bird netting into pieces about 3' long by 2' wide, wrapping them around the cluster of cherries and then using twist ties (left over from food storage plastic bags) to tie
every 8" along the branch. Man, even with small pieces the bird netting is very difficult to handle. I also found the cherry tree is more flexible than i though... grab a branch and just pull it down so some of the work can be done from the ground . Can't wait to try them when ripe.

You don't suppose a squirrel could be trained to chase the birds away and not eat any of the fruit either, just pay it with almonds?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 8:55PM
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I tried wrapping the clusters of cherries with a couple layers of standard plastic bird netting from home depot and despite what appeared to be well fortified protection, the red headed woodpeckers and other birds would still land on the branches, compress the netting and pound away towards the cherries until they got some. Next years strategy will be to net the exterior perimeter so the birds cannot land on the tree.

The green tulle draw string bags worked very well protecting cherry clusters, and my guess is their green color must keep the birds from seeing the ripe red cherries. Also, we had a 3 minute hail storm a couple days ago and the cherries inside the tulle bags were protected from the hail which ripped apart many leaves. The ripe cherries had turned dark like a bing cherry and were absolutely delicious! Perhaps this approach should be considered for protecting ripe cherries from a rain splitting their skin?

To add to the fun one of the main cherry tree limbs showed bacterial canker oozing and thus i just cut if off.

Thanks for all your help and i hope this like so many other postings helps others in the future doing research!

And yes, the cherries were soo much better than store purchased cherries it has been worth the effort. Kind of like comparing a store purchased tomato to a garden tomato.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 8:26PM
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