Hungarian pie cherries-Jubileum, Danube, Balaton, and.....?

Mark,
I am with you on Danube. A waste of space (my backyard).

I think it is a good move for you to plant the Romance series. @clarkinksprobably could recommend good producers for you.

I am waiting to see how Juliet will perform. My Juliet is in its 4 th leaf. It flowered profusely but set less than 10%. Don’t know if it was because temp went down to 31-32 F a couple of time around and after bloom time. I hope it will produce better next year.

The one that is a real poor producer among the Romance series is Crimson passion. Avoid that.

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Just wondering if you grow these for a “pick your own” area at your orchard?

I don’t.

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We do sell our cherries as pick your own.

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I would avoid Crimson Passion as mentioned but also Carmine Jewel because the cherries are so small. Juliet may be a shy bearer at first, time will tell. Mine is 4th leaf and it has a small crop. But so does my Carmine Jewel, and so looks environmental to me.
I also have Wowza which is supposed to have huge cherries. Little is known about this one? It was one of a few unnamed cultivars the U. of Sas. gave Gardens Alive as part of the distribution in the USA deal. Romeo and Juliet look like the way to go right now. I’m not concerned about the low production as cherries are long lived trees and almost all fruiting trees from seedlings and not grafted take 7 to 8 years to get to full production. Yes exceptions of course. It depends on what it is. I have cornus mas seedlings and they took 8 years just to fruit. Far from their full potential yet too.
When grafted the Romance series cherries grow like all other tart cherries. Into a tree form. For quicker production, this may be the way to go. It appears the natural roots are what dwarfs the plant into a bush.

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Thanks Olpea. I started a row of Carmine Jewel and Romeo. I thought they would make a good windbreak too, so I was going to let them sucker and fill in. But this will mean way way more cherries than I will be able to use, in years to come. They are tedious to pick (and pit), and wouldn’t sell well at market, imo, because the top of the cherry oxidizes quickly where it was attached to the stem. Unattractive to buyers, I would think. If they pick their own, then they get them as fresh as possible. I don’t know what’s involved in having a pick your own orchard, but may need to look into it in the future on a small scale for select fruits that I have too much of for us to use.

That is extremely valuable info I had forgotten about. I had grown some montmorency cherries and they had the same problem. Due to the browning, they were very unappealing to sell. Do you know if Juliet cherries brown like this?

The tree form cherries from Hungary don’t brown at all. It’s been so long since we’ve had browning cherries, I took this for granted.

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@Olpea, I don’t grow Juliet, so I can’t say for sure, sorry! But being from the same breeding program as Romeo and Carmine Jewel, I would think all the bush cherries would have this same characteristic.

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Which tart cherry tree produced 40 lbs.?

It was a Montmorency cherry tree. I didn’t like the quality of the cherries, so I removed it. Balaton doesn’t produce as much as a Monty, but the quality of Balaton is loads better.

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This topic has interested me for some time, as I bought the three Hungarian cherries in 2004. I misplaced an early iteration of my orchard map, and haven’t been certain which tree is which for years now…until yesterday, when I found that map and now know which two of those three trees still survive.

Before I launch into my results section, I’ll provide some background, because it has certainly affected the performance of these trees and should be considered against the experiences of others. Also, I am constitutionally predisposed to provide the absolute maximum context for anything I post. Sue me for being a dull pedant (repetitive, I know, but likely accurate).

I’ll start with my personal caveat—if you’ve read and remember too many of my infrequent posts, this will look familiar—that early on in my home orcharding “career” I abused pretty much all of my trees through poor management. Deer showed up in 2010 and systematically chewed up, limbed up or broke off a number of my trees. Cherries in particular were favorite targets, so these three trees never really had a chance to shine until the last three or four years.

All of these trees grew slowly, which is characteristic for almost all of the trees in my lean soil. Balaton was the best grower and producer early on, though that production was never more than a couple of handfuls. This tree succumbed in 2012 to the accumulated stresses of poor early management that couldn’t respond to the massive damage of the deer. I don’t actually recall how they tasted other than pretty good.

Jubileum was less damaged by deer than the other two trees and has produced off and on for 7-8 years, though only a couple of years had enough cherries to make jam. It’s 9’ tall, the absolute allowable limit for trees in my pedestrian orchard. It has a complex flavor profile and makes excellent tasting jam, but is not as easy to eat out of hand as Danube. The birds also love Jubileum, working harder to get at this cherry through the netting I throw over it than any other fruit on my property. Notably, I made (shame on me!) a tree for my sister, who at that time lived a couple miles down the hill from me near the local river, where soils are much deeper and more fertile. She also watered more. Her tree produced large crops almost annually after three or four years and grew to 20’ before she moved three years ago.

Danube was also heavily and repeatedly damaged, to the point that it was 2’ tall gnarled nub for a couple of years before pushing out a new shoot around 2014. This shoot is now a 7’x7’ tree that has been difficult to manage. It’s ugly, but pushes 3’ of willowy new growth per year that I’m hoping to eventually sculpt into a 9ish foot tall x 6’ wide tree. (This will probably never happen.) Anyway, it has produced cherries for the past four or five years, slowly increasing its crop load each year. This year I harvested ~20 lbs. It’s the sweetest tasting of the two remaining trees, though Brix was 22-23 for each variety. It’s got nice acidity, but much less than Jubileum, and is less complexly flavored. My wife made jam from each of these last year, and Jubileum was far superior, though the Danube jam was still quite nice.

At this point Danube appears like it will be the better producer of the two and is enjoyable eating out of hand, but Jubileum makes better pies and jam.

Though I now know which of the three trees is missing from my Hungarian collection, I won’t replace my Balaton tree. I’ve got at least two, likely three (another example of poor note keeping *sigh) of the Romance Series cherries. Carmine Jewel delivered its first usable crop this year (year 4).

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I don’t have any of the three, but I did have Surefire. You mentioned it so I am going to comment on it. I really wanted to have this tree, but it froze to the ground in 5b. It had good growth last year, it’s first year, not even late growth…I didn’t fertilize it. I planted 2 other trees also. Juliet and Evan’s Bali. Both of them weathered the winter fine, not that I doubted Juliet would. So, I moved Juliet to where Surefire was because it’s a way better spot. Evan’s does well in my region, I know of trees here already which is why I chose it in the first place (great tasting jam). The funny thing is I only wanted 2 sour cherry trees but couldn’t decide so I figured I would eventually remove the one I liked the least, well Mother Nature made that choice for me.

@HighandDry,
Glad someone gets Danube to be oroductive. I like the taste of it and dislike its very low production so it was gone.

If you like tart fruit, you probably will like cherries from the Romance series. I found Juliet too tart to eat fresh.

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You only need to beat Danube within an inch of its life and then wait 16 years and it produces great. Who doesn’t have the time and energy to do that?

Carmine Jewel is quite tart too, with some astringency as well, so I’m expecting it to be pretty good in jam. I harvested 4-5 cups two days ago and plan to mix it with a gallon of the Danube I pitted and froze a month ago and make jam. I’m hoping it falls somewhere between the Jubileum and Danube jams in flavor.

Danube does taste great in pies. I’m eating a slice of the apple-Danube cherry pie my wife made today with early drops from my loaded Claygate Pearmain espalier. Excellent!

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Just discovered this website. I have 9 cherry trees (2 Jubileum which do well after 6 years, 1 Hudson, 2 Bing which are the BEST, 1 WhiteGold, 1 Black Tartarian, 1 Monty which I just planted in 2019, and 1 Royal Ann. I need one more cherry to fill an empty space, and was about to buy a Balaton…until I read all these reviews about it being a poor producer. I DID have a Balaton in 2016, but it died. Maybe that was a sign. So now it is March 2021, and I want a decent 10th cherry. Any suggestions for zone 7?

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Hey Bill Welcome!

For me, Monty is by far the champion. Nothing comes close. I had Jubileum and Danube. Both tasted great but produced amazingly poorly after many, many years. Balaton produces better than those, so I kept two of them. They’re not in Monty’s league but substantially better than J and D. North Star gets tons of diseases here in our wet cool Spring climate. I love Bing, but I think the birds will get most of them. I do have one Surefire, which produces better than J and D, on a par with Balaton. I live in the PNWet, which has a huge impact on cherry production. Some will get diseases and not produce much here.
JohN S
PDX OR

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I agree! My Monty in RI was superb, huge and gave me buckets of cherries. I moved. No room for a Monty which grows best in the ground. Its not a tree to espalier, that I know of. It wouldn’t give me enough cherries. It was my favorite jam, and pie as well as gifts for my friends. They grow here in the S. Of France, but people prefer sweet cherries here, of which there are orchard after orchard!!! Miles of cherry trees. I will have to find a Montmorency vendor or orchard soon!

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Hello, i found your message trail accidentally. I live in Portland, Oregon. 6 years ago i was on a business trip in Moscow and i went to a sour cherry tree nursery to get a couple trees where they advised me to get a Vladimirskaya and a Konkurentka. Now i feel they must have given me this advice when i told them that i would like to plant them in the US. I found out the hard way that they bloom two to three weeks apart and could never pollinate each other. However, one year i saved pollen from one tree in the fridge in a glass jar with some rice in a cheese cloth to keep the pollen dry and i hand pollinated the other tree when it began to bloom and i had a tree laden with delicious sour cherries that year. However the following year that didn’t work. I searched during a few tears for information about Konkurentka because noone heard of it. Finally i found an entry for it on an agriicultural research institute website in Siberia where it was first developed… they must have finally built a website. Of course it listed a few pollinators for it, but NOT Vladimirskaya. Would anyone have any ideas how to find a pollinator that would work locally? I wrote to Siberia but they are not responding.

Also i d like to connect with John as he is also in Portland. Thank you all!

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