Could you recommend a sour cherry for fresh eating?

mdo003July 3, 2012

i want to plant a cherry tree this fall or next spring, im debating over a u of sk like crimson passion or carmine jewel, a traditional sour cherry such as northstar, or a hungarian cherry such as jubileum or danoube. i buy frozen tart cherries and like the flavor of those but havent really tried much else fresh. i want one with good flavor, a small tree size, and the tree needs to look nice and ornamental rather than scraggly since i live in town and my wife freaks out about my fruit plants. good productivity would also be a plus, as well as the birds staying away (im hoping to avoid netting it due to the looks concern)

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Did you see the post yesterday about Balaton? It has excellent quality out of hand when fully ripe.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 4:41PM
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I just put in Crimson Passion bush cherry, Danube tree, and Surefire tree this spring. I'm sorry, I can't comment on taste yet but I can say the trees look like they will be very ornamental. The Danube blossomed this spring (though it aborted the baby cherries, understandably) and was at least as lovely as my crabapples. The leaves are a nice, glossy green as well. Sour cherry trees aren't supposed to get very big, 15' or so, and I'll be pruning mine so they don't get bigger than 10'.

There are traditional sour cherry trees (not sure if they were Northstar) at the Allen gardens in Madison, WI that haven't been pruned/sprayed/anything for years, and are still attractive and set a good crop this summer. They were not netted, and it seemed the birds weren't taking too many. There was more than I could pick, anyway! (I had permission, since I volunteer there.) I enjoyed them fresh off the tree, if they were really ripe. It is in the middle of the city though I'm planning on netting my trees once they start to bear. I have heard birds don't go after the yellow cherries like White Gold as much as the dark ones. But that is a sweet cherry, and more finicky than the sours.

Once you plant, be sure to protect your tree from rabbits! They left my Crimson Passion bush alone for a few weeks, then nibbled it to the ground. Luckily, it came back once I fenced it.

I'm looking forward to hearing comments on flavor and productivity from people with bearing trees!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 4:43PM
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Just picked 2 pounds Surefire off a 3rd-year tree. Would have been 10 pounds but for another very wet and cold late spring (tree had over 1,000 blooms). Surprisingly few cracked even though it rained 20 of 30 June days, but then the ripening Surefire fruit is very soft. We particularly wanted the red flesh and juice of the Surefire.

I'm not a fan of cherries but the Surefire tastes very good when cooked or baked, just like you would expect of a pie cherry.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 12:01AM
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ernie85017, zn 9, phx

DO you have 2 trees for pollination, or is there a variety that doesn't need a second pollinator tree?
Glad mdo... asked this question.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 1:28AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

U of sk or Evans could work for you, all are self fertile.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 2:39AM
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I second Balaton. It has been very productive plant since the day it was planted, and so far stays very bushy and compact. Fruit is great. This was the only year we didn't get any cherries from it in several years, and that was due to an exceptionally warm winter/spring and late freeze.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 8:44AM
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do you guys know how big the Balaton gets? any recommended sources?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 10:03PM
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What do you call a disease and pest free, landscape quality, frost proof, long bearing (2 months), highly productive cherry tree? Illinois Everbearing Mulberry. No joke, cherries are problematic. has top quality bare root fruit trees at very reason prices, including Balaton. Got mine on Mahaleb as I hate Mazzard.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 1:39PM
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larry, id probably be eating these mostly fresh how is the taste on teh surefire?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 2:07PM
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I can't compare the flavor of Surefire to other pie cherries because I haven't tasted other varieties. Anyone who likes other tart fruit like rhubarb or quince would probably like to eat the Surefire fresh.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 12:59AM
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I love rhubarb and quince, but not straight. Well ripened sour cherries are enjoyable in moderation though.

I have 3 trees with a sparse crop that is just starting to ripen up. I have no idea what variety they are other than the fact that they have red flesh and are maybe 4-8 years old. I wonder if its enough for one pie this year?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 2:45AM
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A note on balaton: the guy from the nursery said they self-pollinate imperfectly compared to montmorency and he actually suggested planting alongside a montmorency so that your balaton sets a better crop.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 11:12AM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

Montmorency is a champ for a reason: Tons of trouble-free delicious cherries every year. Beautiful to look at.

I had one Jubileum cherry last year. It was purple and delicious.

I like Northstar but it has lots of diseases here with our wet Springs.
John S

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 2:17AM
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I grow Northstar. It is a bit tart for for fresh eating although I do eat some fresh. The trick for me is to let them ripen until purple. Do not pick when red. Perhaps too
tart for fresh eating for most people. I cook with most of them.

I sampled Balaton at my friend's commercial orchard and agree is is fantastic for fresh eating. I was so thrilled
that I purchased my own tree bare-root the following spring. It is now 5 years old and I have yet to get a cherry off of it. The tree runted out at 4' and just gets
wider but not taller. This year it flowered but a heavy
spring frost wiped out this year's crop.

I will give it another year, but I cannot get the tree to bear. It has only sparsely flowered the past 3 years. I heard they are shy bearing in youth and are best cross pllinated. With that in mind, I planted a mesabi cherry

I think it is a rootstock issue as the tree is healthy. The source I bought it from did not disclose the rootstock used. It does not grow in size like the Balaton at my friend's orchard. His were 12' tall.

My family likes Montmorency as well. They can be eaten fresh if picked late in the season but are not quite as sweet as Balaton. Big issue is Montmorency gets way too large to net for bird control.

Has anyone tried growing Montmorency on Gisela 5? I see raintree offers is on Gisela 5. I have been tempted to try
one to see if it will stay smaller than the 18' height I see at the commercial cherry orchards in my state (WI) in the Door County area.

I have not yet tasted Danube or Jubileum but commercially I hear Balaton was the best out of these 3 introductions from Hungary. Can anyone comment on the sweetness of Danube and Jubileum compared to Balaton?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 10:46AM
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