Breeding cherries

I am curious if anyone is breeding cherries? I have seen some threads with people trying to cross cherries with other stone fruits but failed to find any threads with a focus on breeding cherries either tart or sweet or sweet/tart crosses. Anyone out there doing breeding work?


Bump. How true to type do cherries grow? Sweet or sour?

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Sour (tart) cherries and sweet cherries are different species. So if you breed two tart cherries you will get a tart cherry. Same is true for sweet cherries. However, I am not sure how much cherry offspring resemble their parents.

Most apples have highly variable offspring with some exceptions. Whether the variability we see in apples is true for cherries I don’t know.

There are also hybrids of tart and sweet cherries. These are often referred to as Duke cherries. They have a mix of characteristics from both species. I think most of them lean towards sweet cherry characteristics because of selective breeding. In the past, people in climates that are difficult for sweet cherries would plant Duke cherries since they were tolerant of harsher conditions. Now, with cheap and convenient shipping I think most people just buy cherries if they don’t live in a prime sweet cherry region.

Most of the Duke cherries originated in the 1800s or earlier. Modern breeding programs are aimed at supplying new sweet cultivars for commercial production in the current sweet cherry regions. Little work is done to bring cherries to regions where they have done poorly in the past. One of the reasons I asked about cherry breeding was I wondered if anyone was trying to breed duke cherries. I wondered if crossing Montmorency with say Black Gold or White Gold could produce a sweeter tasting cherry that more people could grow.


I really hope the new UoS cherries bring more interest in breeding new cherries. It does not make sense there is not more interest in expanding the territory or taste of all the cherries.

While i agree that sweet cherries are one of the produce that tastes very good in stores they just do not even compare to freshly grown tree ripened cherries. The best store bing does not even touch a barely tree ripened van in my opinion and i think Montmorency is a very good fresh eating cherry once its overripe. I realize I live in one of the places that produces good cherries however. On this side of the Rockies sweet cherries perish every 50 or 60 years from flash freezes but on the other side of the mountain there are sweet cherries pushing 100 years old. I have a montmorency cherry tree that OP near 3 sweet cherries (Black Gold, Hudson and Craigs Crimson) but i bet it usually breeds with itself or surefire pie cherry (amazingly hardy tree amazingly astringent and tart fruit ) that you could try growing out seeds if you wanted. If you were to buy Organic Colorado Bings your most likely pollinator would be Montmorency or less likely Van (sweet).


I’m exploring breeding cherries and plums.

To whit, this article crossed my bow in today’s news feed:

The Future of Cherries – Researchers Successfully Sequence the Montmorency Tart Cherry Genome

The research paper that the article describes can be found here.

Besides the specific accomplishment of sequencing the tart cherry genome, the fact that these researchers are starting to investigate the genetics underlying polyploid hybridization is itself a significant development. Most work until now has focused on diploid inheritance.

In particular the paper touches a bit on the self-incompatibility system, the ‘S-alleles’, that govern cross-compatibility of stone fruit. This has been worked out for diploids (sweet cherries) already. Figuring out the complexities in a polyploid system would help breeders of tart cherries (tetraploid) and plums (hexaploid).


There is (was?) relevant, contemporary work being done in Ukraine and Russia. Below are a few cultivars that are available in Europe, although likely not in North America:





For a deep dive, check out the work of Lilia Ivanovna Taranenko. She’s a renowned breeder of stone fruit, including duke cherries designed for harsh, continental climates. Happy pollinating! :cherries:

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Thanks for mentioning Lilia Taranenko. I did not know about her or her work. I found an article about walnut breeding, of all things, that contained a biography and an interview with her written in Russian. I translated it with some help from Google and posted it here:

A biography and interview with Lilia Ivanovna Taranenko

In the interview Lilia mentioned her book titled “Methodology for accelerating the selection process and variety testing of stone fruits” (“Методике ускорения селекционного процесса и сортоиспытания косточковых пород”). An internet search comes up empty including Google Books. If anyone in Ukraine or Russia has a copy I’d be grateful to learn about it.