Eastern Sweet Cherries

Interesting sweet cherry article shown below. This article is interesting to us in Kansas because bacterial canker is a problem here as well like in the east.

“Sweet Cherry Varieties for Eastern U.S.
By: Robert L. “Bob” Andersen, Professor of Horticulture, Dept. of Horticultural Sciences, N.Y.S.A.E.S.,
Cornell University, Geneva, NY 14456
Briners - Sweet cherry profitability was way down in 2002 and 2003 in the Eastern U.S. due mostly
to cold weather events. But there is hope for profitability for this crop. Even though there are over
50,000 acres of sweet cherries in the three major western states prospects are still good for sweet
cherries in some Great Lakes and EUSA sectors of the cherry industry. There is no doubt that fresh
market prospects in EUSA are improving with Gisela rootstocks and rain and bird covers. Briner
prospects for Michigan also have some bright spots. Jim Nugent asked me to review the variety
picture for briners with special attention to new developments that offer hope for solutions to some old
problems with existing varieties. He and Greg Lang collaborated with me late in 2002 when we
published a rather detailed report in Fruit Growers News about briners. I’ll review and up-date that
report here today.
Cornell University’s Geneva Experiment Station and Michigan State University’s NW Michigan
Horticultural Research Station have been collaborating steadily for two decades in testing the world
collection of new sweet cherry varieties. Light fleshed varieties and test selections that we have tested
are mostly from Summerland, British Columbia and our Geneva program. The B.C. light cherries are
by-products of their project to breed Rainier-type cherries to expand the fresh marketing season in
the West. Geneva’s project has specifically targeted development of new briners that will live and crop
regularly in the Great Lakes fruit belt.
Unique features of Eastern North American sweet cherry industries
What’s unique? In a word, weather. Cold climate deciduous fruit production has always brought
challenges that demand knowledge and management skills to remain profitable. Sweet cherries are
near the top of the tree fruit crop list for challenges. Early bloom emergence and frost, winter cold
hazards, especially to young trees, fruit cracking, and diseases like bacterial canker, brown rot, and
cherry leaf spot all factor into site selection, variety & rootstock choices. A host of cultural imperatives
must be learned.
Processing markets have long been the mainstay for Eastern sweet cherry growers, especially in
Michigan, due in part to differential freight costs favoring the central USA. Also, mechanical harvest
technology and capital investments in harvesters that serve dual roles for tarts and sweets give us
another huge efficiency advantage. Whether acreage expansion in the East is warranted must remain
the decision of individual producers.
Specifically, I’ll suggest ideas for better pollination of Emperor Francis and Gold, the two mainstays of
Great Lakes’ brining industry. I believe that Napoleon is just too susceptible to bacterial canker for
EUSA, so I intend to explain why I think that adding two new pollenizer varieties for Emperor Francis
will solidify its production. I’ll do the same for Gold by suggesting two other interesting prospects for
pollenizing it more effectively.
Self-fertile varieties - Are they a curse for Eastern growers due to cluster setting and greater brown
rot management challenges? Or, are they one of the keys to solving pollination problems? Remember,
all self-fertile varieties not only pollinate themselves they will pollinate all other sweet cherry varieties
that bloom at the same time. I think that self-fertile pollinator varieties are now available that can
safely be recommended for planting as pollinators for both Emperor Francis and Gold. Remember,
MSU Extension recommends at least 25% of an EF or a Gold block should be well mixed with abundant
pollen producer varieties that are compatible with these primary briner varieties. These pollenizers
must match up in bloom emergence timing. The difference in bloom emergence time between EF and
Gold is too great to use one of them to pollinate the other. Since this is true, it means that at least
one different pollinator will be needed for each of them.
Emperor Francis’ Problem - This old variety remains as the reliable tree that crops well for Eastern
brine cherry growers. But EF will only do this if they have the right pollenizing variety. Unfortunately
EF falls into the same pollination group as Napoleon, Ulster, Kristin, Somerset, Bing, and Lambert, so
it is incompatible with these varieties. Our suggestion is that the use of self-fertile varieties for
pollenizers for new processing blocks of EF may make good sense for the Great Lakes. Preferably, the
pollenizing variety should be chosen so that it will be sprayed and harvested in the same timing as EF.
Geneva’s new WhiteGoldT; (abbreviated WG) fits these criteria. WG was tested as NY 13688. It is selffertile.
Its parents were EF and the self-fertile, red cherry, Stella. WG blossoms emerge with EF. Its
ripening time overlaps or may start a day or two earlier. It is cold hardy in both mid-winter and spring
frost situations. It is highly tolerant to cherry leaf spot and similar to EF in bacterial canker situations.
WG yields heavily. The biggest unknown about it is its cracking tolerance. In Niagara County, NY it has
been similar to EF in cracking in a commercial site at Jim Bittner’s Singer Farms.
Choosing WG to be part of your new pollenizer plan for EF is probably a good decision. However, Jim
Nugent and I don’t suggest planting solid blocks of WG and dropping EF from future plantings. WG is
just too new to take that risk. In fact, we suggest instead that WG could best serve you when you
employ it as one of two pollenizing varieties for new EF blocks. Choosing a second pollenizer for EF
that will bloom with EF but which is a later ripening briner would decrease cracking risks in some
seasons. While this strategy may make harvest less convenient, there is merit to selecting pollenizer
varieties that ripen either distinctly earlier or later than EF and WG.
As of 2004 I have not discovered any early ripening, brining-type cherry variety(ies) that will live and
produce heavily around the Great Lakes. We are looking for them. Fortunately we have found a very
good new variety that ripens a little after EF and WG. It is BlushingGoldT; (abbreviated BG). Formerly
tested as NY 8182, it blooms at the same time to slightly earlier than EF and WG. Although it is not
self-fertile, it pollinates EF and visa-versa. We have more experience with BG in the Traverse City
Region than with WG. We feel confident in stating that BG will be equal in its rain cracking tolerance to
that of EF. BG has excellent crop-set and yield performance records in Lelanau County, MI and
Niagara County, NY during the past five years. BG fruit size is slightly smaller than Emperor Francis. It harvests well with stems off. With the use of ethephon it may be possible to harvest BG
simultaneously with EF, but this has not been tested.
Since WG will pollinate BG you may want to consider planting new blocks to BG with WG pollenizers
Remember a minimum of one-fourth of the trees should be pollenizers. Since these are both new
varieties such blocks should be modest in scale.
Gold’s problem - Gold is a corner-stone of the Great Lakes sweet cherry brining industry, but it has
pollination difficulties in some sites due mostly to its late bloom emergence. Two pollenizer prospects
for Gold seem quite interesting-NY 7855 from Geneva, and StardustT from British Columbia.
NY 7855 is a late-mid-season, blushed cherry that blooms somewhat later than EF, WG and BG. Its
pollination timing will overlap that of Gold. It is not self-fertile. It belongs to the same compatibility
group as Hedelfingen, so it is incompatible with Hedelfingen, but it will pollenize Gold and visa-versa.
The NY 7855 tree is naturally dwarfed by about 15 to 20 percent and is regularly productive at Geneva
and in Niagara County, NY trials. We have not done pilot tests to check its pitting-efficiency yet, but
will do so in 2004 if Mother Nature cooperates. NY 7855 fruit ripens with BG but blooms too late to
pollenize BG effectively.
StardustT = 13N-07-70 (abbreviated SD) blooms nearly as late as Gold and it is self-fertile, making
it highly likely that it will pollenize Gold very well. It is a blushed skin, yellow-white flesh, large, firm
fruited, accession with very good to excellent fresh eating quality. Reports from several sources
indicate that it is both frost tolerant in the spring and has a cold hardy tree. It has definite fresh
market potential for MI as a Rainier-type fruit that ripens a few days before Gold. Stardust’s late
season availability for marketing fresh MI cherries deserves attention. More about it below under Fresh
Market Varieties. Its brining potential depends on whether a market exists for large size marachinos.
We have tested Stardust Tin the Great Lakes Region and believe it to be well adapted here. It is much
more tolerant to bacterial canker and fruit cracking than Rainier.
Geneva has three other briners that are elite test selections that deserve your attention. These are:
NY 518, which is an all-gold fruit that ripens late, about with Gold, but blooms early. It has a very
limby tree that yields very well. It has been making a very good evaluation record at Singer Farms,
Niagara County where we have about 150 trees on mahaleb that are about 8 years old. It belongs to
the same pollination group as BlushingGoldT, so BG will not pollinate it. Emperor Francis will pollinate
NY 9295, which is an all red skinned type with yellow flesh. It ripens between BlushingGoldT and
Gold. It tends to bear fruit as singles with big thick stems. They would make fine cocktail-type
marachinos. The tree is strange in that it is considerably more weepy than Gold and Hedelfingen, but
it is plenty vigorous and Jim Bittner of Singer Farms has found that it shakes well with ethephon. He
has about 150 eight year old trees of it.
NY 9127 is a late ripening briner (about with Gold) which is just getting started in grower trials, so
we don’t have it fruiting yet anywhere except Geneva. It has blushed skin and it has fruit with similar
size to that of Gold. Rainier is one of its parents, so we must be somewhat cautious about its
hardiness evaluations. We do not yet know what will pollinate it effectively, but expect to have this
information after the 2004 bloom season. John McManus planted some of it in 2003, so he and the NW
Station will be the first in MI to evaluate it for your conditions.
Canners and Freezers - Positive changes in the variety picture for this category of processing sweet cherries are:
BlackYorkT = NY 1725 was released by Geneva in 2003 with the marketing help of International
Plant Management, Inc. This mid-season, dark cherry ripens right with Ulster and Kristin and has
similar size and quality to them. Its big advantage that deserves your attention is that it will pollinate
both of them as well as Emperor Francis. Its trees have an excellent record for annual cropping
without bacterial canker in a 50 acre sweet cherry pick-your-own operation in Pennsylvania. This farm
belongs to Richard and Tom Haas who have 30 year old trees of NY 1725 and are planting new
orchards of this cherry this year.
Finding an early dark variety that crops heavily and has a rugged tree that will withstand shakers and
cold winters is a goal of Jim Nugent and his staff. Of course pitting efficiency is important for
canner/freezer candidates. New test selections from Geneva that deserve your attention in the early,
dark, canner /freezer category are:
NY 101 - ripens about 10 days before Sam, Kristin and Ulster. It has Van as one parent which has
apparently given this selection its high crop setting trait. We don’t know its pollination compatibility
requirements yet. We do know that it blooms with Ulster and Kristin in the middle of sweet cherry
bloom emergence.
NY 290 - ripens about 8 days before Sam, Kristin and Ulster. It gets its earliness and heavy cropping
capacity from its male parent, Valera, which is an older variety from Ontario. Since Valera is quite soft
pitting efficiency tests with NY 290 are essential and have not been done yet. We don’t know the
pollination compatibility requirements yet for NY 290. We do know that its bloom emergence timing is
early with Chelan, Somerset and NY 518 (the late briner that I described above).
NY 8139 - ripens about a week before Sam, Kristin and Ulster. This selection has Vernon as one of its
parents. I mention this because Vernon has a very rugged tree in trials at Geneva and we expect NY
8139 to share this trait. We don’t yet know the pollination timing or the pollen compatibility category
for this selection.
How about late, dark, canner/freezers? We have a really interesting one in NY 9165. It ripens with
Gold and has excellent quality and heavy crop setting. It hangs on the tree exceptionally well. It
ripens so late that it would interfere with the onset of Montmorency harvest. So, maybe none of you
will want to try it. We are hopeful that it will prove to be self-fertile because its male parent was
Lapins, a self-fertile. We will know more about this after the 2004 bloom season. This was a 2001
selection so it is quite new and we don’t know yet if it will have a rugged tree. We do know that its
female parent is very hardy in Geneva.
Fresh Market Varieties - rootstocks for smaller, more precocious, sweet cherry trees that will fit into
rain-covered, bird-netted, plantings in EUSA have kindled interest in locally grown, fresh market sweet
cherries. Key points to focus decision making about this crop are: 1) can your area organize an orderly
harvest of both processing sweet and tart cherries while it develops fresh market production and
packing capacity when it is well recognized that the late ripening, fresh sweet cherry is your forte?, 2)
will the trees of fresh market varieties live in your environment (with special attention to bacterial
canker/winter injury complex)?, 3) will the variety set at commercial levels annually?, and 4) is fruit
cracking tolerance adequate?.
There are many new sweet cherry varieties that look enticing in catalogs, but our tests at Geneva
have shown that many varieties bred for arid climates do not live well for us. Jim has the same
experience here. Hence, I assert that EUSA growers must assume that Geneva and Traverse City trial
evaluations provide their best bets for successfully choosing adapted varieties. ‘Bing’ is problem for
local, wholesale, marketing of sweet cherries in the EUSA because it and its look-alikes (‘Chelan’,
‘Lapins’, and ‘Skeena’) dominate chain-store sales. But none of these four WUSA dark varieties fits
EUSA growing conditions. Another problem for fresh market wholesaling of sweets by you Grand
Traverse region growers is your late position in the supply chain. You have a big advantage in being
late and close to EUSA markets, but hand harvesting late sweet cherries simultaneously to machine
harvesting Golds and Montmorencys makes management skill crucially important.
Another key consideration about EUSA fresh market cherries - I strongly believe that you should be
providing both dark and light flesh varieties because the increased availability of Rainiers in chainstores
is creating lots of interest in light cherries.Neither Jim nor I believe that the Grand Traverse
growers can successfully produce Rainier due its history of serious winter damage to trees and fruit
cracking in Traverse City tests. I don’t believe that Emperor Francis has large enough fruit to succeed
in major fresh market outlets, so what other light cherry options make sense? I like Stardust’s
chances of success for you as a fresh market light variety. I mentioned it earlier as large, high quality
and hardier and has less cracking than Rainier. Its mid-late ripening time would position you well to
follow WUSA Rainiers in EUSA cities. But taking advantage of this opportunity would place grower
management skill at an even greater premium than for late, dark fresh marketing. This is true
because bruising and blemishes on light, fresh market, cherries are much more difficult to hold down
than with dark cherries. Again, I feel sure that you have a big advantage in being late and close to
EUSA markets, but hand harvesting late sweet cherries simultaneously to machine harvesting Golds
and Montmorencys makes management skill crucially important.
A key point about successful sweet cherry growing potential for non-arid regions is that rain-cover
technologies are looking promising and may prove cost effective in some situations. But remember, all
sweet cherry varieties crack. They even crack some under rain covers. I have emphasized below in the “Bob’s Best Bets” list those varieties that have lowest cracking levels at Geneva. They are not
necessarily the largest fruited.
Varieties by
Maturity Season Key Evaluation Traits *
negatives positives
Cavalier (d) Shy Q+, BCT+
Cristalina (d) Hardy?, New Sz, Q
Sam (d) Q-, Soft LoCrk, Rel, Pol(L), Pro
Summit(d) Soft Sz+
BlackYorkT (d) Sz- Rel, Pol(M), Pro,BCT+
Emp. Francis (w) Sz- Rel, BCT+
WhiteGoldT (w) New Pol(M), Hardy, Pro, BCT
Attika (d) OvS, Frost,Pit? Q+, BCT+, Pol(L)
Regina (d) Shy, Pol? Q, LoCrk, Sz, BCT+
Gold (w) Pol? , Sz- Pro, Bird Tol+, Pol(L)
Hudson(d) Sz- Q+,Hardy,LoCrk,Pol(L)
Sweetheart (d) OvS Rel, Pol(M)
*Abbreviations :
Bob Andersen’s professional opinions about positive and negative traits (as determined by at least 8
seasons’ observations at Geneva)
BCT+ = bacterial canker tolerance is above average at Geneva
(d)= dark fleshed
Bird Tol = bird tolerance is due to complete lack of red pigment
Hardy = wood hardiness above average at Geneva
Hardy? = wood hardiness has shown signs of weakness @ GES
LoCrk = low fruit cracking
New = variety has been tested & proven to be very good at Geneva for 7 or more seasons but it has
not yet been grower-tested in NY or similar climes
OvS = over-sets causing reduced size, variable ripening, less Q
Pit? = poor pit characteristics for processing uses
Pol = pollinate other varieties well if same season bloom time
Pol? = sometimes difficult to pollinate effectively
Pol(M) = good pollinator for mid-season bloom time
Pol(L) = good pollinator for late-season bloom time
Pro = processing-type, meaning heavy yielding, but fruit size medium or less
Q = high quality (a combination of taste & texture)
Q - = inferior quality for fresh use
Q+ = best quality fruit of varieties we have tested
Red = red, not mahogany or black skin
Rel = reliable, consistently crops very well @GES
Shy = shy cropping, meaning slow to crop & needs extra pollenizer trees
Soft = soft flesh
Sz- = size is questionable for fresh uses
(w) = white fleshed
All of the Geneva numbered selections can be obtained from International Plant Management, Inc., of
Lawrence, MI. Wally Heuser and Wanda Heuser Gale represent Cornell University in marketing our
stone fruit test selections to North American nurseries. Jan Melvin is here at Acme representing IPM,
Inc. and Summit Sales at this Orchard Show.
Please send any comments or suggestions regarding this site to:
Bill Klein, kleinw@msu.edu
Last Revised: 1-27-04”


Some great west coast sweet cherries this year also Cherry Trees For Sale - Buy Cherry Trees from Stark Bro's, Grandpa's Orchard I really want to try BlackPearl® Dark Sweet Cherry because of its crack resistant as was discussed in 2016 https://extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/documents/1/1longlvarieties.pdf. It’s reported to be a firm tasty cherry with some crack resistance.
“Cornell University
• Earliest ripening of “Pearl”
• 1
st releases developed for
west coast cherry industry
• > flavor Santina or Tieton
• Medium strong taste
• Sweet with nice acid balance
• Very firm to crunchy
• Some rain crack resistance
• Heavy producer
• Blooms mid-early S4
S13 –
Chelan, Samba”


Hope Clark won’t mind if I use this thread to talk a little about my sweet cherries here in the south (Tennessee). I’m trying not to create new threads every time I want to post.

So, this is by far the best year I have ever had for sweet cherries, and its been very rewarding- in large part because the conventional knowledge is that sweet cherries just can’t be grown here in the hot, humid south. I’ve tried about 10 different varieties and must admit that many of them did not make it here or didn’t produce or hold fruit until ripe. So I can’t say conventional wisdom is completely wrong. At the same time, I have found a few varieties that do GREAT here, and they are what are serving me well this year.

The 3 varieties that have done the very best here are Black Tartarian, Brooks, and Van - and in that order. Far and away, BT has been the best. And I’m not going off just one tree which could be a fluke. I’ve had 3 BT’s and all have done great. I killed one by scraping it severely with my tractor/mower, but it was doing great. My oldest BT is 7 years old and is a huge tree. It sends out tons of new growth and remains bright green and healthy each year. Pollination was a bit of a problem until I grafted a limb of Van onto the tree and it got large enough to produce a lot of blooms. This is first year that it bloomed in large numbers and the increase in set cherries on my BT is amazing. They are almost ripe now and I’ll have lots of them for once! I tried photos of the whole tree but the dark red fruits just don’t show up very well. Here is a close-up of one area. They aren’t completely ripe yet.

My Brooks Cherry is starting on its 4th year and is doing great. It is not nearly as fast a grower as BT, and isn’t as lush with new leaves and growth. But generally its healthy and in terms of fruit per foot of tree, it is the highest producer by far- it is just loaded. Most importantly, its fruits are by far the best of all my sweet cherries-absolutely amazing!!! You know how about 1 of every 5 times you buy sweet cherries at the store they are unbelievably great tasting/sweet and the other 4 times they are just ok to good? My brooks are a 10 out of 10 every single time I eat one. Here are some photos of them:


Van is my 3rd favorite and most successful, though this year the birds got almost all of the cherries on my 4 year old Van. But it is a healthy tree with lots of lush, green leaves and growth.

I must admit I’ve had several other varieties of sweet cherry trees just be unhealthy and some even die, so they can be a challenge. These include Bing, Tulare, Stella, Lapin, Rainier, Lambert, and couple more I’m forgetting. Most of my “failures” were only one-tree attempts, so that is far from evidence since a single tree could die or be unhealthy for lots of reasons. But the 3 listed here have all done well year after year. So if you live in the south and really want to grow sweet cherries, you might give these a try.

I also have all the Romance Cherries along with Montmorency (2), North Star, and early Richmond. As expected, I generally have better luck with the sour cherries overall. Where I live the sour ones all ripen later than the sweets, except for a couple Romance series trees (forget which 2).


Those look delicious!

Thanks Clark! I intended this to be an informational post but as I reread it sounds a little too much like I’m bragging and showing off because I have been able to grow sweet cherries here in the south. I sure hope it didn’t come over that way because-as I said- I had more failures than success with all the varieties I’ve tried, and even my success wasn’t due to some great knowedge or skill or method I’ve developed. I just planted the trees and cared for them like any decent fruit grower would.
But I must say, those Brooks cherries are a little bit of heaven!!! Much better than Black Tartarian.


I think this is great info and has encouraged me to try Sweet Cherries in Virginia. I just picked up a Kristin Cherry do you know much about it. What do you spray on the cherries. Maybe I will pick up a BT. Thanks again.

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Thank you for saying that, Dave (is that your first name?) because as I said above, I was afraid my post sounded a little too boastful even though I mentioned having a lot of failures with sweet cherries to go with some success.

Kristin is one I have not tried, so I can’t offer you much info there. Overall I would think your weather in VA would be a tiny bit MORE favorable to sweet cherries than mine here in TN, even though we are probably in the same zone.

Cherries are actually a fairly low maintenance fruit for me in terms of spraying. I hit them in late dormancy with a mix of copper and oil, but to be honest I’m not certain this is really that beneficial.

The only real issues I’ve had with sweet cherries are a little brown rot and insects (Plum curculio and Oriental Fruit Moth). However, both of these problems are much less pervasive than on my peaches and requires about half the sprays.

I use either Captan or Myclobutanil, and both work for brown rot. I use Imidan for insects.

I spray the fungicide (Captan or Myclo) by itself just before the trees bloom (pink bud stage). Then after petal drop and all subsequent sprays I use a mix of fungicide and Imidan. I spray my cherries every other time I spray my peaches. This works out to be about every 20 days after the petal-drop spray. The good news is sweet cherries are quite early, so I usually only spray 1-2 times after petal drop until harvest. My sweet cherries are ripening now and will be ready in about 2-3 days, so late May.

Hope this helps you and (hopefully) anyone else who comes along. There might be better ways and other sprays and someone may say this isn’t good advice. All I can tell you is that this is what I’ve learned works best for me over the years. I used to spray more often but have found my cherries do fine with me spraying them every other time I spray peaches.


Yes Dave is my name. Since I am relatively new at fruit growing I appreciate all the knowledge and experiences shared here. Thanks for the advice. It does get very humid and hot here in the summer so I will see how sweet cherries will fare. Thanks again for the post


Cityman, do you have trouble with cracking after rain? Thanks for the report.

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You know Barry, I read a lot about that problem, but have had very little of it on my cherries. I have no idea why, I can only tell you that it just hasn’t been a significant problem, only a few odd cherries here and there but very few. Perhaps it is because it stays fairly wet here in the spring so the fruit stay fairly saturated the entire short season before harvest. From what I’ve read, a lot of the cracking problems tend to occurr when its been fairly dry and the fruit isn’t fully plump/saturated with water and then rain comes and they soak up and expand and crack. But that is just a guess…all I know for sure is that cracking just isn’t a problem here for me- not on any varieties. In fact, I have a lot more cracking/splitting on nectarines than cherries. Go figure?!?


Great info! Thank you for sharing this! :slight_smile:

I’m in a little hotter climate, and I’ve been determined to grow sweet cherries too, and I’ve had a lot die on me too. :slight_smile:

Here are some videos I made earlier this year about the Van and Stella cherries I’m gowing.

Van has been doing pretty well for me too, just some very minor disease issues, and it was able to get over them and is growing really well now.

My Stella cherry tree has been growing the best out of the two. It has been a very vigorous grower, with almost no disease issues.

I was glad to see your results with Black Tartarian, I just planted one this past fall, and I’m going to look into getting a Brooks, sounds like a great cherry.

I haven’t had a harvest yet, but hoping to get one next year!


I read through this thread and I did not come out with a clear picture of what varieties are best for Eastern growers - in my case Piedmont region of Virginia. Anyone care to share success stories/failures with cherries? I have many failure stories mostly related to Lowe’s bought varieties likely on Mahleb. Getting the trees not to die has been a challenge. I have three trees that have grown well - Stellar (Colt), Early Star (Kymrsk 5) and Black Heart (likely wild black cherry rootstock). I have yet to get a cherry off of any tree.

Any advice on varieties and rootstock would be greatly appreciated.

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If your not in an area that grows sweet cherries commercially sweet cherries are tough. Are you prepared to spray for brown rot? Are you prepared to put up scare tape or net your trees? If not your probably better off planting something else.

Under Eastern Conditions here are some cultivars you might try.

Blackgold self-fertile, very late bloomer which is good for late frosts but blooms too late to pollinate many other sweet cherries, crack resistant

Whitegold self-fertile, yellow with red blush, crack resistant

Black Tartarian great flavor, heirloom, brown rot resistant, once was commercially grown in New York when trees weren’t sprayed (1800s)

Other sweet cherries for Eastern conditions

Ebony Pearl, Burgundy Pearl- both are new and developed in the East

Emperor Francis- older yellow cherry

Also note most cherries are relatively soft. If you demand crisp,super firm cherries like Bing you are probably going to be disappointed.



Kymsk 5 and Gisela 12 are more resistant to canker than Gisela 6


Gisela 5

Full size

mazzard- default sweet cherry rootstock, large tree and slow to come in production, large tree means hard to net

For cherries it’s tough finding a cultivar on the rootstock you want.

For cultivars on Gisela 5 the only source is Raintree Nursery. For trees on Krymsk 5- Schlabach’s nursery and Trees of Antiquity. Cummins nursery sometimes carries trees on the Gisela series. I have seen them offer trees on Gisela 6 and 12. Trees on mazzard are easier to find.

I have Blackgold on Gisela 12. It bloomed the first year (I picked the blooms off). It grew little the first year but I bought a small caliper tree. The 2nd year decent growth. The 3rd year good growth. In the 3rd year, I got about 2 dozen cherries.



Like many, I love sweet cherries, sweet and firm like Bing or Rainier.

Figure out those two varieties don’t do well in the east coast so I’ve settled for Black Gold and Vandalay, both on Gisela 5.

Vandalay was removed after 4 years, cracked and rotted badly. Black Gold is a bit better but it is Not crack resistant, not in my yard.

Black Gold tastes fine but texture is not firm. It has brown rot after 5 years and will all rot if not spray. I keep BG because it is extremely productive and very cold hardy. It has given me lot of cherries every year. It is self fertile. You only need one tree which what I have. My tree is 8 years now.

Gisela 5 is a very good dwarf rootstock for my small back yard. I pruned it to an umbrella shape. It is only 5 ft tall so it is easy to cover with net. No netting = no fruit.

I grow fruit trees so I can have fruit that taste much better than store-bought fruit. For me, this is not true for cherries in the east coast. I still prefer Bing and Rainier over BG any day of the week.

@thecityman loves his Black Tartarian. My neighbor grow them but they never fruit for her. After 6 years, she cut all three trees down.

Thank you for sharing the varieties that should work on Eastern conditions. What does your spray program look like for brown rot - fungicides, frequency, when to start? Do you net your trees or use scare tape?

As far as rootstock goes I have very heavy red clay based soil, do you still recommend the same rootstock? How big did your Blackgold on Gisela 12 get? Thanks for the info - Spud.

Why don’t Rainier or Bing do well on the east coast? What does your spray program look like? Thanks - Spud

I have no idea about eastern sweet cherries but i cannot say enough good things about every gisela rootstock i have tried, to me they have no negative attributes they are very precocious and easy to manage trees which have been very cold hardy, drought tolerant, well anchored in clay. Bings are the best cherry hands down in my opinion but do not take to the snap frosts very well compared to a few other more cold tolerant sweet cherries.

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This was an old thread from Gardenweb but the info is still relevant. Cherries, particularly sweet cherries like Bing and Rainier do not do well in warm, humid climate like your east coast zone. Rainier is not cold hardy enough for my colder east coast zone.

Too much issues to make growing sweet cherries in the east coast worth it for many people. Some cherry issues can start early like leaf spot and canker. Others like cracking or birds show up when trees bear fruit. Brown rot is a couple of years after fruit bearing.

Many people along the east coast have tried to grow sweet cherries with limited success and a lot of work. So far, people report their success with other varieties, not names Bing and cherries, like Black Gold, White Gold, Regina, Black Tartarian. There are some newer varieties but I have not seen many reports from people yet.

I hope one day, new sweet cherry varieties that are crack resistant and disease resistant suitable for east coast will be developed.

I mainly have tart cherries and apples so my experience with sweet cherries is limited.

For spraying this year- sweet cherry

Captan (fungicide) in pH adjusted water (needs to be acidic) until petal fall

After petal fall-Captan mixed with Triazicide (insecticide)

I plan to do 1-2 sprays before petal fall and 2-4 after petal fall. It’s critical to have fungicide on the cherries when they are starting to ripen or brown rot will get them. Kinda like peaches in that respect.

I use scare tape on tarts and my sweet but timing is critical. You want to put it on just as the cherries start to ripen. Too early and the birds get used to it and ignore it. Too late and the birds are already eating cherries. Even with the tape I have losses- a net would be much better. For netting you need a shorter tree something to keep in mind.

My Blackgold is only 3 years old and about 6 feet tall. I expect if you don’t do size control pruning it will be in the 12-15ft range when mature compared Gisela 5 8-10ft and mazard 20-25ft. I plan on keeping it at less than 10 feet with pruning.

I have heavy soil. It behaves like clay soil. When it’s really dry it cracks. When you dig a hole in really wet soil it forms a glaze on the side of a hole. The soil is actually silt loam and as you dig deeper it turns into slity clay loam. I have older mature tart cherries on Mazzard and Gisela 5 and they do pretty well. Mazzard, Gisela and Krymsk should all do pretty well on clay soil.


Rain is an issue for me, but besides that they grow fine here. I don’t grow them though. I have a White Gold tree with grafts of Emperor Francis and Utah Giant. Utah Giant is a very firm cherry and splits with rain, but does not rot, still very good eating. It is very sweet. Grows well here.

Here is mine from 2018. I use it on all stone fruit
2018 03 17 Sprayed Kocide copper 2tbsp/gallon with Nu Film 17 sticker.
2018 04 22 Plant Guard (4tbs) can be used every 14 days 4 sprays left (Nu Film is used in all applications)
2018 05 18 Infuse (2tbs) 3 sprays left, and Fruit Tree Spray (2.5 tbs) 21 days 2 sprays left
2018 05 24 first PC strikes (plum curculio beetle)
2018 05 24 Ortho Flower, fruit, and vegetable (3 tbs) extra for trees because of bad PC. need to find something else.
2018 05 29 Plant Guard (4tbs) can be used every 14 days 3 sprays left
2018 06 06 Fruit Tree Spray (2.5 tbs) 21 days 1 spray left.
2018 06 14 Infuse (2tbs) 2 sprays left, Ortho Flower, fruit, and vegetable (3 tbs)
2018 06 28 Plant Guard (4tbs) can be used every 14 days 2 sprays left
2018 07 15 Infuse (2tbs) 1 spray left, Ortho Flower, fruit, and vegetable (3 tbs)

For dormant protection
2018 11 23 Lime-sulfur with oil
Apply 4 fl. oz. lime-sulfur plus 1 1/4 fl
. oz. dormant spray oil per gallon of water.

It works for me really well. The fungicide in Fruit Tree Spray attack brown rot by attacking a different mechanism (mode of action) than Infuse does. So I’m attacking brown rot from 2 different fronts. I also feel the insecticides do well against PC which here is rather light.
All my fruit comes out flawless, here are nectarines