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Last Updated  May 20 2014.  All material copywrite protected.        

 

Cultural Requirements for Cherries

It is easy to start and care for the new dwarf cherries.  They do not require any unusual cultural practises at all.  You will learn to love them as 1.7 to 2.2 m (5 to 7 ft) upright well behaved shrubs.  The breeders often refer to these cherries as "dwarf," because traditionally, the tart or sour cherries were medium sized trees. The only one of these trees that is even partially hardy in Zone 2 is The Evans Cherry.  It grows naturally like a small to medium sized tree.

  • Although not particularly demanding, cherries will benefit from deep, fertile soils, that are well drained.  For maximum productivity, cherries require a sunny location that is somewhat protected from prevailing winds.  If planting them in rows, North-South orientation is always better than East-West.  In rows, space them 1.5 to 2.0 m (5 to 7 ft) apart.  

Like all plants, cherries will benefit from soil that is uniformly moist at all times.  Supplemental irrigation, whether trickle or overhead, is beneficial.  However, many successful orchards have no supplemental water at all...except, of course for the first 2 or 3 years when the plants are establishing.   

  • When plants are in close proximity, years of heavy cropping may deplete soil nutrients faster than they can naturally replenish.  For maximum productivity it might be helpful to use low rates of a balanced fertilizer with micronutrients.  Apply in early spring only.  

Pruning and training techniques for commercial production have not been adequately investigated yet. When you get your plants, they will be mostly single stem.  Allow them to develop 5 to 9 crown or stem suckers.  These will develop naturally at the base of each plant.  

  • In early spring, after 4 years of growth, begin a renewal pruning regimen.  Remove 2 to 4 of the largest stems from the middle of each plant.  Do this every year.  The result will be a plant that is somewhat open in the middle and forever young and productive.   This will allow for better light penetration making all shoots productive.  The increased air movement through the plant will result in vastly increased resistance to disease and insect problems. 

 Of the thousands of plants started on the prairies in the last 5 years, it appears as though the only hardiness issues in Zones 2 and 3 relate to plants that have not been able to harden off in time for winter. It could be said that these plants were damaged by kindness. 

  • Inadequate soil fertility is better than excess fertility. Fertilize sparingly and only in spring.
  • Except in extreme drought situations, withhold all supplemental irrigation after September 01.  A deep watering very late in the season, when there is no chance for further growth, is, however, beneficial.  

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