2011 sweet cherry pics and report

fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TXJune 8, 2011

First let me say that these observations are very preliminary. This is my first good crop and there were major differences between conditions relative to cultivar. Some were in pots, some in the ground. Some needed thinning and some had only a few cherries. The brix numbers should be understood as having an error of + or - 3 or 4 points.

But here are the numbers and observations. The cultivars are listed by order of preference with best at the top.

Selah: 31 brix, very firm and large fruit, good flavor

Sandra Rose: 34 brix, best flavor, large fruit, may be soft

Van: 30 brix, very good flavor, medium size

Royal Rainier: No fruit this year but very good in past

Bing: 23 brix, very good flavor

Lapins: 23 brix, similar to Bing with less flavor

Rainier: 26 brix, too soft

Skeena: 27 brix

Sweetheart 27 brix

Chelan: 23 brix, only good because it's early

Sonata: 27 brix, soft and tart

Regina: 26 brix poor flavor

Royal Helen 29 brix, poor flavor

Royal Edie 27 brix, poor flavor

Some pictures of the fruit.

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Wow, picture perfect.

All of mine rotted due to the rains and cold. Now its extremely hot, 97.2 degrees per Weatherunderground in my home town.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 3:08PM
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Is it looking like the largest cherries have the most insipid taste?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 3:46PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


I can see where you are coming from. The two Zaiger lines Royal Edie and Royal Helen were very big because they had little fruit. They are just 2nd leaf trees so a small crop is in order. That fruit and Regina tasted like some over-water-stressed cherries I've had in the past. The over-stressed cherries were very small. These cherries didn't appear stressed at all as evidenced by the fruit size.

Selah is a large cherry and it has very good flavor.

With me almost every fruit gets a second chance. After that I'm ready to bail. I'm certain that throws away some good lines but there's too much else to test to waste too much time on anything.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 6:15PM
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Where did you get your Sandra Rose (and on what rootstock)?

Dave Wilson Nursery says, "Ranked the best in flavor by taste panels," but only offers it to commercial growers. Adams County Nursery lists it but doesn't say which rootstock and I don't know if they can ship to California.

I grew up in cherry orchards. Back then the selection was limited to Van, Bing, Lambert, Royal Ann, and Black Tartarian - but I can't imagine anything being better than a fully ripe Bing.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 7:34PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I got most of these trees from Raintree, Van Well, C&O, or Columbia Basin. Rootstocks are Giesla 5,6, or 12, Dave Wilson interstem, or Dave Wilson 3CR178. Krymsk 5 gave bacterial canker and tree death so won't go there again. All these give fruit 2-3 years earlier than Mazzard.

Bing is a great cherry. It has consistently been better than Rainier for me. But some of these new ones are great as well.

From now on all my cherries will be in 10-15 gal pots and on one of the precocious rootstocks listed above.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 7:49PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

The number one new variety I'd like to add this winter is Cowiche. Described as being larger than Selah. Very high brix, 24, which by industry standards is very high. Also having a very strong and distinctive flavor and excellent firmness. Very productive, and here's the one I really like, much preferred over any other cherry by birds!! I know it's too good to be true but I do believe in the birds, they know good fruit when they taste it!!

Also have some interest in Kiona and Santina. Will get another tree or two of Selah, Sandra Rose, Royal Rainier, and possibly Van.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 10:12PM
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Are Rainiers always soft? I don't think I've eaten one since the mid-80s.

My mother swears by Lambert but it's apparently fallen out of favor and they're not widely offered. Dave Wilson has them but not on CR 178.

I read your post about Krymsk 5/canker, do you think you would have had the problem had they been grown in pots?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 10:49PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


My pots will be in the greenhouse where the above were grown. I don't think I'll have canker problems in there on sweet cherry. Actually don't have any serious problems in there on cherry.

Rainiers have always been soft for me. And I don't think their flavor is anything outstanding either. They're just sweet and pretty.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 11:32PM
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"The Cowiche is a strongly flavored very large dark red cherry with excellent firmness..." Sounds good, that "strongly flavored" part. Do you have a source for it?

I still can't find a retail Sandra Rose that can be shipped to California (it seems to be widely available in the UK).

How does Rainier compare to the Royal Rainier?

Any yellow cherry that doesn't taste like a Royal Ann is fine by me. I always thought I'd find one ripe enough to be sweet but they fooled me year after year (I'll probably be labeled a heretic but I don't like cherry pies).


    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 3:18AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


I don't think anyone is going to ship you a bare root cherry tree right now. And right now I can't find a Sandra Rose or Cowiche either. But this fall or next spring one of the nurseries above should have both. Columbia Basin has Cowiche described in their catalog. It is a new release out of Washington or Canada, can't remember which.

I think Royal Rainier is a better flavored sweet cherry than Rainier and sweeter. You can buy it from Bay Laurel out of CA but so far they haven't had it on a precocious root. I haven't tried Colt, Mahaleb, or Mazzard in a pot.

I might say a few words about Benton. I've tried to fruit it on about 5 trees over 7 years and keep coming up empty. The quality is supposed to be excellent but I'm about to give up.

Other varieties I've got but not fruited yet are Attika, Sunset Bing, Cristallina, Tieton, and Craig's Crimson.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 7:43AM
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I'm not a huge fan of sweet cherries, I prefer sour because I love the culinary qualities the sours offer. Nonetheless, I find this discussion interesting. I would love to hear similar discussions on growing sours in the southeast b/c I am struggling and learning it all the hard way.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 9:18AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I don't see you have Stella in there? I would assume its somewhere around Lapins for flavor/sweetness?

After this year, I'm digging my sweets up and potting them. I plan on giving them all a major haircut. We'll see how they do next summer. My Stella has done great growing in a pot and I can move it around depending on the weather. Frost coming? into the garage! Heavy rains/high winds? into the garage!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 11:24AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Frank, Stella is the one cherry I grew in Amarillo about 10 yrs. Probably got at least 6 crops. There never was one sweet cherry in the whole lot. I'd say 12-16 brix. Maybe it was the growing conditions but I'll not be trying that again. It is the original self fertile and I'm thinking there are much better eating quality cherries out there now.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 12:48PM
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Have you tried White Gold?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 2:33PM
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I have Stella, Van, Bing and Lapin trees. By far, the Stella produces the largest and most flavorful fruit of the bunch. In fact, I've never tasted a better cherry.

Here in the SF Bay Area, we get cool nights, warm (not hot) days and around 23" of rain annually. For whatever reason, it seems to be the perfect growing conditions for my Stella.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 2:34PM
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My favorite nursery Fowler's in Northern California sells Sandra Rose and other unusual cherries in their Backyard Tree section for homeowners, at least they did in 2011. (Although their website does not say it, yes they do ship) They only sell the first 3 months of the year, so you will have to wait for 2012, but they are a great source for beautiful bareroot trees, and very nice people.

Carla in Sac

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.fowlernurseries.com/index.html

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 2:42PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


I put bird netting on the Stella this morning...temps look cool the next week (70F's) and the cherries are just showing a red blush. I'll see how they turn out. I've got cherries on the Lapins, Black Gold and Kristin but those are in the ground and the birds are already attacking them. Black Gold last year had some great tasting (huge) cherries. That one is a self fertile variety.

I've wondered how temps play a factor in fruit quality (flavor/sugar/coloring)?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 4:26PM
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Thanks for that link to Fowler's Nursery, Carla. They have Sandra Rose on Krymsk5 They also have Bing and Rainier on Krymsk 5 and 6!

I've been reading what I can find (mostly Lynn Long) and growing trees on the dwarfing rootstocks is still a "work in progress", even for the professionals.

If I had the space I'd just buy a 20' ladder and get everything on Mazzard or Colt.

Looking forward to Giesla3 :-)


    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 8:16PM
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Had around 5 pounds of craig crimson this year, harvested them in the first
week of june. 9 y.o tree which gets around 6-8 hours of sun. Used a net to stop birds from getting them.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 7:22PM
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Finished the cherrypicking today. 2 qts of White Gold and 1 1/2 gallons of Stella. I've had the Stella tree about 10 years, and this is the first time I've been able to pick more than a dozen cherries from it. I suspect that x-pollination with the WG had made the difference.

I would have prefer to leave them on the tree to get more ripe, but the weather is more conducive to splitting and brown rot than ripeness.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 8:13PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


What did you think of the Craig's Crimson quality? I've got the tree but fruit may be a year or two away.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 10:09PM
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>From now on all my cherries will be in 10-15 gal pots and on one of the precocious rootstocks listed above.

I've been wondering how potted cherry trees would fare. I've got one more 12g pot to put something in. If you had just 1 pot, what would be your top choice of the plants you've listed?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 10:28PM
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GreenOrchardMom(Ga Mts 7)

Nice work fruitnut! Thanks for the heads up about krymsk 5.
I was just finishing my cherry order & will now select gisela instead.
Also suspect I may have to get a Sandra Rose.
zztop: how were those Craig's Crimsons?
ltilton: did the White Gold cherry taste ok even as you picked early?
These are 2 in my cherry bed so look forward to tasting...

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:05AM
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Green - yes, they did, I loved them. The ones I left on the tree tasted even better, of course, but then they were getting awfully reddish and the birds were taking note.

Overall, I consider the White Gold on Gisela one of my real successes at fruit growing.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 2:06PM
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