2022 SoCal cherry observations and tests

I have found it near impossible to propagate gisela (off patent now). I cut a nursery tree off at the rootstock and it actually is growing.

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Brooks on Krysmk is growing well.

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which gisela? I’m trying g5 softwood cuttings on a mist bench right now, will know in a couple months if they take. last year I got a g5 root cutting to grow, you may have seen that thread, and now it’s a little bush that I’m trying to figure out a cutting protocol for

Mine was gisela 5. I have a trunk sprout on gisela 12 also that is barely a twig. Would love to see it grow out more. Good work on the root cuttings! Any advice for the rest of us?

Brix update:
Governor Wood 15. Past peak flavor. I like Gov Wood but have to admit the modern cultivars do taste sweeter.

Royal Crimson 19. Was not as good as its peers. It was not at peak color though. Will try more.

Brooks 24. The highest currently. A bit past peak, they taste like cherry syrup, in a good way, but very very sweet. I like them most when they first turn dark and have more sharpness. Then they are perfect.

Royal Lee 22. Flavor intense and balanced by acid. My favorite cherry right now. Too early or too late are also amazing in flavor.

Minnie Royal - all of them are 22. A couple days past peak. I have been giving these to friends who are amazed by the flavor.

Coral - 19 and not as good as the others.

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I followed the recipe in the paper I linked here

“root cuttings (15 cm in length and 15-18 mm in diameter) of two-years-old cherry rootstock Gisela 5 were taken in the last ten days of February for two consecutive years. After surface washing and drying, they were placed vertically (leaving about 10 cm above sand level) in bottom heat bench with a cutting base temperature of 17-20°C. They were irrigated twice per week until budding.”

except I used promix HP and didn’t bud them. the same procedure worked for citation. I didn’t use BAP and I did use bottom heat. I think without budding them the take rate will be lower than the 80-90% in the article because you aren’t providing a bud, but still a chance

Utah Giant on a small graft on deficit irrigation. One of the best cherries I have ever eaten, but everything on this multi-graft drought irrigated tree is amazing. Royal Lee on the same tree measured 28 brix. I am not sure what it means that a small dying graft of Utah Giant made a cherry. Since the flavor is so good I will probably try more grafts to see how productive it is.


Rainier cherry, left to color and ripen, was only 16 brix and did not taste good. Not productive, just a few scattered cherries.


Royal Crimson actually hit 27 brix. Most are around 22 and some are around 18 or 19. They are sweet and good at higher brix but not at the same level as Brooks or Royal Lee.


The Coral cherries on this tree are at peak flavor and are very good. On other trees there is an aftertaste that is hard to describe. but I use the term “grass-like,” a taste one encounters in unripe cherries. One of my sons sampled a Coral cherry from a commercial grower a couple weeks ago and said quietly to me, without knowing the cultivar, “Dad, these are terrible.” On the other hand sometimes they hit peak flavor and are rich and very good. Never give up on a cultivar on one year’s performance. They seem to be my most productive cultivar, right up there with Minnie Royal. More experience is needed.


It looks like I need to add Royal Crimson and Brooks to my Royal Lee and Minnie Lee trees to help produce more overlap in flowering.

Royal Lee brix on deficit irrigated tree ranged from 26-31 brix today.

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The last of the Royal Lee harvest a couple days ago. Exceptional fruit, my favorite cherry. Very intense flavor. Prolonged harvest (and bloom) is why it seems to be more of a backyard fruit than commercial.


Kansas Sweet cherries are ripe. When picked at this wrinkly raisin stage, the brix was consistently 25-28. That probably does not reflect the true character of the fruit, as anything “dried” generates a higher brix.


Brix of Kansas Sweet was 20-22 when picked at a ripe stage. They tasted good for fresh eating, rather mild, and did not have the strong acidity I expected. It tasted balanced. They were slightly sweeter and less acidic than Balaton I have tried (that others grew in another climate), and tasted similar to Belle Magnifique. Flesh was soft of course, and Kansas Sweet is a freestone.


My lapins died up at my cabin. Such a bummer. Good news is I got it from Stark Bro so they will be replacing/refunding it.

So in the end, if I have room for one tree in socal, what should I plant and on what rootstock? I’m successful at grafting, so I’m willing to graft two or three varieties to it.

For cherries I would say buy Royal Crimson, graft Minnie Royal and Royal Lee and Brooks. Rootstock Maxma 14 (Gisela 12/Krymsk also fine but not sold on Royal Crimson). Still experimenting though.

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What would you say has been the biggest challenge growing the tree? I searched royal crimson on this site, and noticed several excellent people had theirs died. I’m curious if it’s more fussy than others.

My Royal Crimson died the second leaf a few years ago. I would plant several cherry trees of different varieties near each other and graft other varieties to them. If one dies you have redundancy and cross pollination equates to higher yields. I ended up grafting a scion of Royal Crimson to a small Bing tree, it produced a few cherries the same season! no waiting around for years.

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