Using organza bags, I was able to leave some on the tree until peak ripeness, and was able to go past peak just to get to know the cultivar. In this photo, going to the dark red stage you see here did not improve flavor. In fact, the flesh started to get almost “jello-like.” The best specimen here was the one on the far right.
All cherries are at their best when picked fully ripe. Some, like Black Tartarian, seem to get better when picked even past that point. They almost taste like dried cherries at that point, or concentrated cherry juice.
Royal Crimson can be good but I would not describe it as high flavor. I did overwater them this spring because I was trying to get some seedlings planted below off to a good start. But I overwatered Minnie Royal and Royal Lee also, and those cultivars to me taste amazing. The cherry flavor is stronger, and there is acid to balance them out.
Royal Crimson to me tastes similar to the other self-fertile early low chill offering from Dave Wilson, Royal Tioga (a commercial variety). There are a lot of early season cherries (from a wide variety of commercial growers) that are beautiful but less flavorful and to me, Royal Crimson is like them. The positives of Royal Crimson are that it can be sweet, it is a great pollenizer, it will fruit abundantly in low chill areas, and because it can be tree ripened, it can be good.
So the summary is that Royal Crimson is good, but it is not “eat 2 pounds at once” good. It is more like 2 handfuls good. If you bought tree ripened Royal Crimson in a store, I think you would find it better than half of what is out there, but it is definitely not in the top 10%. I prefer Minnie Royal and Royal Lee.
However, as a pollenizer of Minnie Royal and Royal Lee it definitely has a role in the backyard of every cherry enthusiast in southern California. I would buy Royal Crimson and then graft in the now off patent Minnie Royal and Royal Lee.