Hey everyone. I live in zone 7a south east Pennsylvania. Just recently found this page and it has some great info. I have been wanting to add fruit trees to my yard for quite sometime. I am finally going to this spring. monmorency cherry has been on my radar for a while. My reading on cherries in my area made it sound like sweet cherries would be a lot of work. I’ve haven’t read one bad thing about the monmorency cherry though. What’s everyone’s experience with this tree ? I am aware it’s a sour cherry but do people eat them fresh off the tree ? Also any suggestions on root stock? reputable places to order one ? Thanks for any input
I’d seriously consider the University of Saskatchewan bush cherries (Juliet, Wowza, Romeo, Carmine Jewel, etc.). They’re about the least fussy cherries you can grow. They’re definitely sour cherries, but I think they’re good eating right off the bush. They’re also on their own roots, so in the unlikely event the top dies, there’s a decent chance it will sprout back.
All cherries are going to have challenges, but these are probably the closest to “easy.”
Jay is right. The Romance series from UofS are very easy to grow. I have Carmine, Jewel, Romeo and Juliet. If you have no animal pressure wait until they are dark and they will be sweet as candy. As jam, the taste has a touch of acidity that sweet cherries don’t have… They suckers a bit but easy to contain and your friends will appreciate the gift! I also have North Star and I consider them superior to the Romance series. Marc
I have grown both bush cherries and Montmorency. I think Monty is a bit easier to grow … they get the same pests and diseases plus the bush cherries are prone to powdery mildew in my climate which is similar to the OP. So I wouldn’t recommend bush cherries in SE PA unless you wanted bushes for landscaping reasons. The folks above are in colder zones, they were bred for cold and they seem to do better in more northern climates.
Montmorency is easier to grow than sweet cherries, but you still can have various pest and disease problems. Some issues I have had with mine include plum curculio (should not be an issue if there are no other fruit trees as they prefer apples plums etc) and cherry fruit fly (which may need spraying if it gets bad). Plus the SWD fruit fly can be bad some years.
I’m in central Maryland, very similar climate. My Montmorency cherries are the easiest and most productive fruit I grow, bar none. I rarely spray my tree and I have a massive harvest every year- more fruit than I can deal with.
As a kid I put more sour cherries in my mouth than in the pail…this at either age 4 or 5 the first time up in a cherry tree.
I’d like to ship you some birds…then you’d not have so many cherries you couldn’t deal them!
Great points! I haven’t heard of problems with the bush cherries further south, but that makes sense.
@Jsher listen to Scott before you listen to me. He’s definitely got the experience to back up his assessment.
I am 6A/B in Central Pennsylvania and have Montmorency, Meteor, Juliet and Carmine Jewel. I like all of them and I have had little by way of pest problems (but the birds will let you know when they are getting ripe). Yes, I had some mildew on Monty and Meteor that lead to early defoliation this year. Also had some black knot on meteor this year. The problem that I had with the trees (not bushes) is that they took 4-5 years to get fruit, whereas the bushes produced more quickly (even in an area that was overcrowded, and starting with smaller specimens).
I like the flavor of all of the tart cherries. This past year outside of a couple of pies, we made sauce by boiling down the cherries. My wife will add some sugar to the sauce that she uses, but I do not add sugar to mine. Usually will put it over yogurt.
I cover my tree when the cherries are ripe. Just stretch a net right over the whole thing. Takes 5 minutes and results in zero bird issues.
I have not tried bush cherries here in southern TN… but i have tried jostaberries and red currants and they did not get along with my southern heat and humidity at all. Yanked them after 3 or 4 years of no growth, aweful foliage issues, 3 or 4 berries total.
I think they do well in the north… but did not like it here at all.
Going to try the crandel ? clove currants next time.
I think TN is pretty similar to MD and SE PA in terms of heat and humidity making some berries difficult. Currants are difficult for me that’s for sure.
Re: protecting cherries from birds, what I have done with success for several years is to hang long pieces of reflective scare tape spaced every 2-3’ all the way around the tree. The tape goes from high to near the ground, so it’s a bit like a curtain around the tree. It’s not 100% coverage like a net but I got nearly all my Monty harvest this year. I had a net but my tree is maybe 18’ tall and getting the net on and off is quite a procedure. I also have several sweet cherries to protect … scare tape works on all of them. Note it is critical to put up the tape right before any redness shows. If it is up too long the birds will think of it as normal, and if it is up after the birds already tasted how yummy the cherries are you can forget it.
Hi , When I lived in RI, zone 7 a-b, I had a very large Montmorency. I pruned it every Feb. and it produced like crazy. It was the most disease resistant of all of my fruit trees. The bush cherries are also smaller than Monty so they become tedious to pit. Here is a picture! It is the tree with white blossoms. Loads of cherries.
I have a freeloading lapins cherry… 5 years no fruit. Last two years not a single blossom (in year 3 it did bloom a bit) but not since then.
I added 5 grafts of montmorency to it this spring… all took. Think i will do more of that next spring… get it half or more worked over to montmorency. Hopefully get a cherry some day.
I hope you were joking when you said “wait until they are dark they will be sweet as candies”.
I let my Juliet and Carmine Jewel got as dark as possible until they shriveled the tree. They were still tart to very tart. Sweet as candies seem like a stretch but, maybe, like Sour Patch candies?
I’ve got 2 Montmorencies, both about 6 years old and closing in on full sized. Love them. They’re fantastic to eat fresh in my opinion. Both have been low maintenance and disease free, and the only real problem is keeping the birds at bay. Like Scott, I use reflective tape and it does a pretty good job when combined with a motion detecting sprinkler. I have a Romeo and Juliet bush cherry and I haven’t been as impressed with their output, but probably because they’ve yet to reach full size.
I had a Danube cherry tree that was stolen out of the ground over night before it fruited. How is Danube as a sour cherry alternative to Montmorency. My Montmorency was killed by cherry leaf spot despite spraying
Wait, what? How does that even happen?
I got up the next morning and found 2, 6 ft diameter surface holes and a bunch of broken roots for this cherry and 1 apple tree. There were not enough roots left on either tree to live in the hot mid July.
I’m a bit north of you in Northampton county, PA(zone 6b). I have 10 montmorency cherry trees in my orchard that are in the ground here for 10 years now. For me, they have been great trees. They have cropped well every year since they started putting on fruit.
I do have some insect pressure here, Japanese beetles and cherry fruit flies. Both seem to be controlled easily with a well timed spray.
Fungally, I mainly have to deal with cherry leaf spot. My trees get it bad and it takes multiple sprays, through out the season to stay ahead of it. If I didn’t spray, the trees would be bare of leaves by mid August. I also get a few black-knot strikes every year, I remove it when spotted, not that much of a problem really.
edit to add…I forgot about brown rot, I need to spray for that as well.
Keep in mind, my orchard is in a small valley that gets a very heavy dew most every day in the spring/summer. There are also a fair amount of wild cherry trees near by, so you may not have these problems.
Bird pressure is almost non existent here, I’m not really sure why?
I think my trees are on Mazzard rootstock and it takes about 24" of pruning off the top every winter to keep them at about 12’ tall.
My orchard also has 10 Balaton sour cherry trees. I find their fruit to be of better quality and much sweeter to eat out of hand. The balatons have little to no leaf spot issues here, but probably only yeild about 1/3 the crop as the montmorency’s do.
Montmorency on the right, Balaton on the left.