Montmorency Cherry Tree

zone5bDecember 9, 2008

I am going to plant a cherry tree in the spring and am trying to prepare and decide what tree would be best. I am thinking I like the Montmorency. I am only able to have one cherry tree. I am just trying to decide if I want a sweet cherry tree or a sour. The sweet cherry tree I was looking at was the Lapin. I am new to planting and caring for fruit trees and I guess am looking for any advice on the type of tree or the care. My soil is heavy clay and from what I have read it seems the sour cherry trees might thrive in any type of soil. Also is this type of tree something that our local nursery would have in stock?

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If you can only grow one cherry tree, I would definitely plant a sour cherry versus a sweet cherry. Sweet cherries are much harder to grow, have far more disease and cultural issues, and you are far less likely to get a crop of sweet cherries versus sour cherries overall. Heavy clay isn't a problem for cherries.

You'll need to do a good basic spray program. Probably the simplest way for a newbie is just to buy a good home orchard spray and follow the directions on it. Generally, you'll probably have to spray the tree five or six times throughout the growing season, along with a dormant oil spray in late winter.

Most local nurseries should carry sour cherries (at least, they all do here in Michigan).

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 7:16AM
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If you're only planting one cherry tree, you might want to consider a Danube cherry, which is supposed to be sweeter than most sour cherries, i.e., better for fresh eating. I assume that it offers all the above listed advantages of other sour cherries, but you might want to research it further to confirm this.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 11:28AM
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Thank you SO MUCH denninmi and djofnelson. This is also my first time using a forum and I was so blessed someone replied. What a cool system for advice. Your advice really helped. I will go with the sour cherry and was set on the Montmorency, but will now research the Danube before I make the final decision. If I have an Autumn Blaze Maple tree near by will it cause the Cherry Tree any issues?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 5:32PM
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You won't like eating Montmorency out of hand, or at least I don't know anyone who does. But Danube and Balaton you will enjoy eating out of hand. I really like Balaton. I also believe that I now prefer Monty for a pie, but this is not to say Balaton is bad in a pie which it most certainly is not.
Your maple won't give you any problems that I can see unless it is too close.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 10:19PM
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I love Montmorency out of hand. This is just matter of taste. All my family likes them fresh.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 9:45PM
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I think I am officially a forum addict. This is amazing. Thanks so much to everyone that took time to leave a message. It really has helped and I just cannot wait for spring to get!! Its not even Christmas yet...

Thank you Geraldo...I am googling those trees now to do some research on them.

Thank you Olga...I agree with you. My friend has a Montmorency and I love eating them right off the tree.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 10:51PM
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myk1(5 IL)

I rarely have to spray my sour cherries. I do get borers sometimes.

I like the quality of cherries from Northstar better than Montmorency but Montmorency are nice yard trees.

I also have clay, I've never had a sour cherry not take. I've never had a sweet cherry survive long.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 10:24AM
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There is an Asian fruit called Goumi that may prove better than the sour cherry unless you really like tart fruit. Pie Cherries are far more manageable than the Sweet and do have less disease problems, but there are superior tart Cherries now to the Old montmorency, from East Europe that have less acid and more sugar.
I would still choose the Goumi plant. It is about as large as a Currant Bush and very resistant to diseases, and it also fixes its own Nitrogen.
I have the Bali Sour Cherry and it is a natural dwarf tree.
Look for Mesabi or Balaton sour cherry.
Mentioned in the Fruit, Berry and Nut Inventory 3rd Edition.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 6:03PM
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Interesting, how different tastes can be. I consider Goumi barely edible, but sour cherries are the best tasting fruit for my taste, nothing can beat it. I can eat a lot, so juicy and flavorable. I ordered Danube for spring some time ago. Want to try these Hungarian cherries too, do they still keep real pie cherry flavors?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 7:21PM
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From what I've read, they are a lot sweeter, but also tart, so could still be used like a Pie Cherry, but would taste better fresh. The Evans Bali is a lot like Montmorency but a smaller tree.

Here is a Canadian thread on this tree:

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 7:41PM
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I need recommendation on dealing with maggots in my pie cherries. I have had my trees for about 10 years, but only in last 3 years have the infestation occurred. When do you spray and how often...and what product. Thank you.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 9:33AM
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The small maggots you find in your cherries are the larvae of the cherry fruit fly. You can spray your tree after petal fall and fruit set with an insecticide such as Permethrin, but the best way to deal with these insects is by cultural practices. If you apply an insecticide, such as Malathion or Permethrin, about two applications spaced a week or ten days apart should be sufficient, but stop before the cherries reach full size and begin to turn color. You don't want pesticides residues on cherries.

If you have been allowing damaged or spoiled cherries to fall to the ground under the tree, you may have been hatching out your own crop of fruit flies, which can become more numerous as the years go by. When cherries containing larvae fall, the larvae pupate and burrow into the ground a few inches to overwinter, ready to spring into action the following season.

To break this cycle, make sure that all cherries are removed from the tree at the end of the season, infested or not, and if any do fall, pick them up and discard them. During the winter, cultivate around the tree with a hoe to a depth of about 3 inches out to the dripline of the tree. This exposes the pupae to cold, drying winds and kills them.

If you are located in the state of Illinois, as I suspect from your handle, your pupae may just now be waking up and there may still be a window to do this. Grab your hoe, and get out there and do some hoeing in a wide circle around the tree, all the way inward to the base of the trunk. If there are any other cherry trees on neighboring properties nearby, you might offer their owners the same advice. This insect can be eliminated.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 10:40AM
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alan haigh

I wonder if those somewhat sweeter cherries like Danube are not also increasingly attractive to birds. Birds still like Montmorency but they leave a decent amount to ripen to tart but tastey. If you net them you can actually ripen them to near sweetness.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 6:37PM
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Clay is not an issue with cherry trees as long as they're not placed in a dip or low lying area where water can pool. If you are only able to plant one tree, what everyone seems to already know, but I haven't seen addressed, is that sour cherry doesn't need a pollinator, sweet does.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 7:26PM
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alan haigh

Calliope, it's been a long time since the introduction of Stella, now there are several self-fertile sweets on the market, including Lapins.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 9:36PM
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I have oak trees's throughout my property and so getting full sun is tough. The spot I've chosen has about 4 hours of sun(1 in early morning and 3hours from 12-3pm)Is that going to be enough to produce cherry's? Also I have an oak about 10-15 feet away from where I intend to plant. How tall and wide will this tree typically grow? Any help would be much appreciated. Finally how old does the tree need to be to produce cherry's

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 10:13AM
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alan haigh

It is always harder to establish trees next to large forest trees- even when the f. trees are on the north side. On the bright side, cherries have a rep for being a very good candidate for partial shade situations.

Sometimes the best way to deal with competing roots is to sever them with a long bladed spade in a wide diameter circle around the tree your trying to establish. You can also size up the trees in a large container grown out in the open ahead of time. Keep the pot partially buried and let some roots grow into soil. Save the roots when transplanting so there will be some root in soil.

The sweeter the cherry the more attractive to birds, in my opinion. I also like Montmorency off the tree when they are dead ripe, but a tree has to be pretty big around here before the birds let a decent crop get that far.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 10:49AM
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how old does the tree need to be to start fruiting?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 11:09AM
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alan haigh

Montmorency takes about 4 years as I recall, not counting the year at the nursery.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 3:30PM
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I just noticed that the leaves on my tree are turning yellow...seems to have gotten worse over the past few days. I bought the tree about 2 weeks and its still in the bucket. Is this normal?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 9:06PM
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Anybody have any input on yellow leaves? Thanks

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 4:27PM
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My Montmorency fruited for us this year, about 40 cherries. I enjoyed eating them out of hand, my wife did too. My father-in-law did not but you can't please everyone.. This is only the second year in the ground for this tree, its on gisela 5 rootstock.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 12:52PM
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frozen_north(Zone 4a - Minnesota)

Yellow leaves - get the tree in the ground as soon as you can. It's probably suffering from being overwatered, underwatered, or both, or a lack of nitrogen, all of which are easier to fix once it's in the ground.

Yes, some people consider the Morello-type cherries (what we're calling sour cherries in this discussion) to be table fruit, others consider them to be culinary (cooking) only. Tastes vary although picking the cherries when they are dead ripe does make them sweeter and more suitable for the table.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 1:47PM
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just got the tree in the ground this weekend. The leaves still seem to be turning yellow and falling off. I hope this is just a short term thing..I'm a little worried. Per the instruction of the nursry I used the bone meal and peat moss.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 9:04PM
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Don't buy a cherry tree from a local nursery. Order in a bare root tree from a mailorder or online nursery. Containerized fruit trees are a very bad deal, and often do poorly.

That, plus the fact that late July is precisely the wrong time to be planting a fruit tree. Plant in very early spring or very late fall. Planting in midsummer is to be avoided. Cherry trees should be planted in the best-drained spot you have -- never in a low area.

When you refer to a "bucket", I hope you do not mean a bucket of water. Cherry roots are so sensitive to drowning that more than 36 hours in water is enough to kill them pretty dead. Excess water produces precisely the symptoms you describe -- yellowing leaves that die and fall off, followed by death of the whole tree.

If you want more specific advice you will have to provide more information, such as how you have treated this apparently containerized tree since you brought it home from the nursery. That nursery should be prosecuted for selling a fruit tree in midsummer. Don't go back there.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 9:25PM
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Matthew , It sounds like the nursery told you to back fill with peatmoss (?) that would be a big no no. Hopefully you have a guarantee.

heed dons advice, a good bare root tree will really take off.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 10:01PM
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well its partially my fault for buying another "container" plant/tree..they were selling the tree on clearance for $18. They also have a life time money back guarantee. I figure i'll give it s shot and see what happens. I'll back off on the watering. You have definetly educated me on the the "bare root" thing I will know doubt be getting my rasberries ordered with nourse early next year.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 10:02PM
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Well I've had the tree in the ground for a few weeks now...its looking much better than it was more yellow leaves. I put a little bit of mulch around the base..not to much. Is there anything else I can do now to give the tree a good chance to fruit next year. How should I be caring for this tree at this time of the year? Fall?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 9:12AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


It's probably asking too much to expect your tree to fruit the year after transplanting. Trees are like people in that they go through a juvenile period before they can start reproduction. Additionally, cherries bloom on 2nd year wood. It may try to set a few blooms next year, but given the stress it's had this year, I'd probably pull them off. Let the tree get a little size before you allow it to fruit.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 10:13AM
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I have a Montmorency Cherry Tree which I plante about 4 yrs. ago. from a local nursery. For the past 2 years it has born prolific amount of cherries. The problem I have is that they do not seem to grow into the normal size of a cherry. They will eventually turn red and the fruit is good but they aren't much bigger than a normal seed from a good sized cherry. Any ideas what may be causing this problem for me?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 7:58PM
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My guess is you might need to thin the tree of fruit. Fewer fruits = larger fruits.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 1:16AM
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Perhaps i got lucky but i was able to get 4 cups of cherries on a 1 year "in the ground tree". Enough for one reallllly good pie. This is the same one that the leaves were falling off.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 5:24PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Unlike other fruits cherries are not thinned. It only takes two leaves to properly size a cherry.

My guess is the local nursery sold Donr46 a bum tree. Probably some rootstock that failed to take the graft.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 10:19AM
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Is it true that on a first year cherry tree, where we have fruit, we should remove all the cherries in order to strengthen the roots ? we were given this advice recently.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 4:20PM
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