Unreleased University of Saskatchewan prarie cherries we want & what we know about them contrasted with romance series cherries

According to DNA gardens the unreleased CHERRY BUSH in the U.S. called Valentine may be one of the best. Does anyone know when it will be released? I have a feeling the University of Saskatchewan are stauling us while they determine the best of the new varities we dont yet know about hence the name of the thread. I suspect the latest release Wowza! Dwarf Cherry, any info? through Gurneys is just the beginning. I must admit im looking forward to the new releases i dont know the names of yet and wowza once the price drops some! Ive also noticed information is dissapearing from the University of Saskatchewan website perhaps indicating a new release group of cherries is coming soon. These descriptions from DNA gardens are reminders of what’s out there now instead of just links because much of the data is being removed or changed

Crimson Passion
This is an exciting one! Excellent fresh eating cherry. No suckers! Fruit size is large at 5.8 grams per fruit. Highest sugar content – up to 22 brix.

Most years, this is the largest of all the cherries weighing in at 6 to 7 grams! Good flavor for fresh eating with a hint of astringency. Blooms 1 week later than the other cherries.

A fresh eating type. The University affectionately calls it “Sweetie”. Large fruit at 4.5 grams with brix up to 20. Few suckers.

This is a dark red/black cherry similar to Carmine Jewel appearance but ripens later. Very flavorful. Good for fresh eating and processing. This productive cherry is one of the best for juice.

This is the most productive of the selections. It is looking very strong with much heavier flower bud load compared to the other cherries. It fruits heavier and fruits at a younger age. Slight suckering. Fruit size about 4.5 grams." -Unique Zone 2 Hardy fruit trees like Treasured Red, Black Currant Plants | Elnora, AB

Additional data may be available in this thread My "Romance series" cherries - #885 by jerry63 regarding the original romance series cherries.


6 years in the ground, no a single flower


I would give that bush half a dozen bags of manure and a pound of bone meal! If you do that it should start blooming next year! Im sorry to hear it has not bloomed yet but that bush is notorious for good flavor and low yields. Once it starts producing you will feel like the luckiest person around.

Its interesting DNA gardens spoke very highly of the carmine jewells i grow already! I agree with them i think they are a first rate cherry. Here is what they said
SK Carmine Jewel
Favorite of DNA Gardens! We think of this plant as a little princess - well behaved and beautiful. Combinations of P. cerasus and P. fruiticosa (Sour cherry and Mongolian cherry) Introduction from the Department of Horticulture Science, University of Saskatchewan. Skin and flesh is dark red. Fruit is abut 4 gm with a small round, hard pit. (desirable when using cherry pitting machines or pressing fruit for juice). High flesh to pit ratio. Superior cold hardiness! Self-fruitful in other words cross pollination is not required.

Fruit is exceptional for pies, cooking, juice, wine or flavoring for ice cream or yogurt. Many like to eat the cherries fresh especially towards the end of the season when the tartness mellows! SK is juicier than sweet cherries and has similar sugar levels but additional citric acid makes them tarter. Near the end of the season, fruit can be collected quickly by shaking tree limbs and using a tarp. Season runs from mid-July till the first or second week in August. It has great potential for landscaping in small yards. With glossy leaves and crisp white blooms - train to either a shrub or small tree. Plant a flowering and fruiting hedge. Plant height is 6 to 8 ft (2 m) and has a very low tendency to sucker.

SK Carmine Jewel is one of six new and exciting cherries released from the University. Carmine Jewel will always stand out for its earliness. Its value will remain because its fruit will command top dollar early in the season. As more information is coming in, it appears that Carmine Jewel will be the workhorse of a new cherry industry. It pits mechanically very well and the fruit makes incredible pie and the juice has very good flavour. This is a winner that is not going to disappear!" -Unique Zone 2 Hardy fruit trees like Treasured Red, Black Currant Plants | Elnora, AB

It does make me wonder if at some point there will be cherries all summer into fall! If your looking for more information on carmine jewell this thread Carmine Jewell Cherry Yields increasing with age is useful. This thread has the juicer i use for cherries in it Carmine Jewell is living up to its famous reputation. There are always other options for juicing fruit Good options for small-scale cider press? - #10 by clarkinks

Many people are wondering life span, ripening times etc. Of prarie cherries and Laura explains that in this article on this website Cherries on the Prairies | Jensen's Nursery and Garden Centre


I’ve been dreaming and scheming for a number of years now. Not that you would know it, by looking at my front garden. I have a small yard, and that’s my entire problem. You see, I want cherries. In my yard. And I can’t have them. Ten years ago, I was looking for an attractive, small tree to put in my front yard. I wish I had known more about cherries back then.

The only cherries I knew of were the Nanking cherries, and I wasn’t interested in a large shrub taking up a large portion of my space. Nanking cherries are in the 6 foot range, generally growing as tall as they are wide. They have beautiful, fragrant spring blooms and the fruit makes lovely jam and pies, but can also be eaten out of hand. The tart fruit is small, only ½ an inch or less, but a single bush can yield over 10 pounds of fruit.

The Nanking cherry is a lovely specimen plant, but also makes a beautiful hedge, as does the Prinsepia cherry. Both should, however, only be pruned after blooming, but use gloves while pruning the Prinsepia to protect yourself from the spiny branches. The Prinsepia cherries are also edible (although tart) and the birds do love them. The shrub turns a beautiful gold in the fall. Its size is similar to the Nanking, so it still would not have been a good choice for my yard.

But then I met Evans. (The Evans cherry, to be specific.) Named after the plant researcher who found it, Dr. Ieuan Evans, it is everything I’ve ever wanted for my small front garden. It is a small tree, growing to a height of about13 feet, with a spread of 10 feet. The tree flowers with masses of white blooms in early spring, and the fruit is large (1” in diameter) and is excellent for baking, jams and wine. It also has excellent flavour eaten right off the tree, however, the longer the cherries are left on the tree, the darker and sweeter they become!The foliage turns a beautiful yellow-orange in the fall. It is self-pollinating, and ripens by mid-summer with a very good yield. It even has an interesting history; the cherry was found by Dr. Ieuan Evans, growing in an established orchard northeast of Edmonton since 1923. He took some suckers from the trees, began propagating them, and now, it is the No. 1 selling cherry tree in Canada.

Even though the Evans cherry is my favourite, I should try to be a bit more impartial, because there are many more wonderful, hardy cherries that have been bred for the prairies. The University of Saskatchewan has come out with a cultivar called Carmine Jewel. It is an 8 ft by 6 ft shrub that also has ornamental value; very large flowers and glossy leaves. The cherries are dark red, almost purple, and moderately sweet (brix 17). This cultivar is the earliest to ripen, during late July. The fruit is good for fresh eating, jams and jellies, and wine.

In fact, the University of Saskatchewan has been breeding sour cherry cultivars for over 60 years. The two sweetest cherries of these cultivars are Crimson Passion and Romeo. They both have a brix 22, but the Crimson Passion ripens slightly earlier with larger fruit, is shorter by a foot (at 5.5 feet) and the least likely to sucker. Unfortunately, they are both a little less hardy when they are still “young.” Crimson Passion has been known to produce fewer cherries, but the fruit has the best texture. If you are most interested in harvesting for juice, Romeo would be the best choice, as it also has a high yield.

Cupid is the latest to ripen, with the largest fruit, moderate sweetness and good flavour.

Juliet and Valentine both ripen early to mid-August, with similar size fruits. Juliet is the second sweetest, so it is very good for eating fresh, but also for processing. Valentine is the most tart of all the cherries, coming in at a brix 15, so it is mostly recommended for cooking and jam. It is also the most prone to suckering, and the tallest at 8 feet.

All sour cherry cultivars are self-pollinating, which is good if you only have room for one plant. For the most part, the cultivars are moderate to high producers, but you may have some competition from the wildlife – birds and chipmunks enjoy them, too. Fruit production will start within the second year. The lifespan of the cherry trees and shrubs is about 30 years, with a medium growth rate, so you’ll be enjoying your cherry harvest for a very long time!"


Another great resource for information is www.artsnursery.com as shown below.
" Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dwarf Cherries-An Exciting Edible

Posted By: in Fruit Trees

One of the exciting new edibles I’ve added to my collection is the University of Saskatchewan’s Bush Cherry. They’ve crossed a Sour Cherry with a Mongolian Cherry and have come up with a variety of new smaller, very hardy tart-sweet bush cherries.

Dwarf Sour Cherry Varieties

Photo Courtesy: GoodFruit.Com

Now hybridizing is not new, and it is not genetic modification. It is a patience and time eating task involving pollinating the flower of one cherry cultivar or variety with the flower of another cherry variety and then planting the seeds of those cherries and waiting to see how they fruit and then testing hardiness and growth habit. Cross pollination occurs in nature…in fact, that is how we can come up with 7000 plus apple varieties.

So the University of Saskatchewan has come up with a smaller bushier hardy cherry like its Mongolian relative (prunus fruiticosa) with all the tartness of a Montmorency pie cherry and all the sugars of a Bing. Well done U of Sask!

They are relatively trouble free shrubs which thrive in full sun (or at least 6 hours of it to produce the best sugars) in an average well drained soil. They can be planted in containers. They are said to be self fruitful though most likely benefit from having a second different variety around.

They have white single blossoms in the spring and fruit in July. The longer the cherries hang on the shrubs, the higher the brix, or sugar. The cherries will not drop like a Bing, they will hang on the shrub and will even dry if you leave them long enough. These cherries are great fresh and fantastic dried or in pies or preserves. They are high in vitamin C and Vitamin A as well as anthocyanins which help to reduce inflammation. The smaller shrub size makes it less attractive to the birds and easier to net if needed. There are several notable varieties each with its one unique characteristics.

Carmine Jewel Dwarf CherryCarmine Jewel Dwarf Cherry Crimson Passion Dwarf CherryCrimson Passion Dwarf Cherry
Cupid Dwarf CherryCupid Dwarf Cherry Juliet Dwarf CherryJuliet Dwarf Cherry
Romeo Dwarf CherryRomeo Dwarf Cherry Valentine Dwarf CherryValentine Dwarf Cherry

Photos Courtesy: University of Saskatchewan

Carmine Jewel – Zone 2-8. This shrub produces almost black red berries in mid- July. They are great in pies, preserves, juices and dried. It is a tarter cherry but many do love it fresh. It is the earliest producer.

Crimson Passion – Zone3-8. This shrub produces dark red berries late July early August. It is the sweetest of all bush cherries with a whopping 22brix. Crimson Passion does not sucker and is a slower grower very well suited to pot culture.

Romeo – Zones 3-8. Romeo produces a dark black red sweet/sour cherry. It is one of the largest and best for producing juice. It is later than Carmine Jewel. It is great for fresh eating as well.

Juliet – Zones 2-8. Juliet produces a dark red cherry. Very good for eating fresh out of hand as well as for making pies, juice and jams. It had very high sugars and is a very productive bush. The pits are large enough to use a crank pit remover if you are making pies.

Valentine – Zones 2-8. Valentine produces a scarlet red tart cherry. The red colour holds in pies and no dye is necessary. It is also great in juice. It is very productive.

Cupid – Zones 2-8. Cupid produces the largest of the cherries and blooms 1 week later than the others. It has great balanced sweet tart flavour for fresh eating, jams and juicing.

I have a number of these in my yard and have had the chance to taste a cherry or two from the bushes. They have a tangy flavour that I adore. I look forward to them producing more and comparing the flavours. This is very exciting for me because I don’t really have space for a larger cherry tree."

I feel confident right now all we can do is improve these little bushes from here on. Wait until we all 5 or 6 varities and they start making natural crosses and those get named!


I did it last year. No help. I have Carmine Jewel growing next to Crimson Passion, actually to the north of it. CJ is a foot or so lower than CP and about 6.5-7 ’ high, so even somewhat covered from sun by CP which is about 8’ high. However, CJ produced a big crop second time last year and in full bloom now. CP has no single flower. In my small yard I cant afford low producer, it is going to be pruned with a saw this year as soon as I have time.


I’ve heard of Valentine, together with the rest of the Romance series for a while but have not seen people talk about it much at all. Not even sure what nursery sells it in the US.

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It’s not released to be sold here yet. It’s a sour pie cherry only so i dont think you would like it.
I think these guys are a long way from finished with these cherries! This article discusses how the cherries actually came to exist Saskatchewan fruit breeders receive prestigious horticulture award - Fruit Growers News. Now 16 years after the romance series were released and 20 years after carmine jewell was releaded in Canada many of us find ourselves growing one or more of the group of cherries. I did not graft my northstar over once i found out the history of the romance series cherries knowing someday i may make crosses of my own.

FEB 14, 2019

Saskatchewan fruit breeders receive prestigious horticulture award

Bob Bors and Rick Sawatzky, fruit breeders with the Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan, are the joint recipients of the prestigious Stevenson Award for their development of sour cherries and haskaps.

Inaugurated by the Manitoba Horticultural Association in 1932, it honours individuals who have “made a conspicuous achievement in the field of practical horticulture.” Named in memory of A. P. Stevenson, a pioneer Manitoba horticulturist who arrived from Scotland in 1874, it has been given only 21 times in 83 years.

As gardeners, we seldom give much thought to their origins as we eat haskaps fresh off the bush or take a cherry pie out of the oven. But it took more than 50 years of breeding and selection work at the University of Saskatchewan before you planted your prairie-hardy cherries and over 20 intensive years went into the development of those haskaps.

Sour Cherries

The first sour cherries planted in the University experimental plots were from seeds from the Central Siberian Botanic Garden in Novosibirsk. These were just beginning to fruit when Rick began work as a technician in 1971. They had low productivity and lacked winter hardiness. Asked to discard them, Rick took two home which he tried (unsuccessfully) to cross with sweet cherries. His goal: to develop a hardy large shrub with large, high quality fruit.

Rick’s next crosses involved a collection of sour cherries, mainly from Europe, received from Les Kerr (who had worked on them for at least 20 years). All these were controlled crosses made in the greenhouse with help from Rick’s kids on weekends. “It was a great botany lesson for them.”

Rick crossed the best of these, ‘Kerr’s Easy Pick’, with ‘North Star’, a sour cherry tree introduced from Minnesota. The result was ‘SK Carmine Jewel’, the first sour cherry introduced by the University of Saskatchewan in 1999.

Bob arrived at the University of Saskatchewan in 1999 when a new generation of Rick’s seedlings were coming into production. He tasted them, began taking data and thought, “These cherries are exciting!” Bob jokingly says, “Rick was their Dad and I became their Godfather.”

Bob tested them further, selected the best and developed a protocol for their tissue culture propagation. He gathered additional cherries from local growers and from Ontario and made more crosses. When making selections he looked at flavour, size, pitting ease and the possibility of mechanical harvesting.

Bob introduced the Romance series of cherries in 2003: ‘Crimson Passion’, ‘Cupid’, ‘Juliet’, ‘Romeo’ and ‘Valentine.’ Of these, Rick’s favorite is still ‘Carmine Jewel’ while Bob’s are ‘Romeo’ and ‘Juliette’.

Rick’s advice on the care of sour cherries: “Grow them as a shrub with multiple stems rather than in tree form. Bob concurs and adds: “Keep the soil around cherries weed-free.”


Haskaps have gone through many incarnations in terms of their names. They’ve been called blue honeysuckle, sweetberry honeysuckle, and honeyberries. The earliest Canadian selections were made by George Bugnet, a French novelist and early plant breeder who homesteaded west of Legal, Alberta in 1905 and who is better known for his roses. Bugnet’s honeysuckles were a beginning, but their taste, size and texture left much to be desired.

Breeding at the University of Saskatchewan began soon after Rick Sawatzky came across what were then called honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea edulis)in 1997 in an article by Jim Gilbert in a Minnesota fruit magazine, Berryland News in 1997. He ordered 2 each of 4 honeyberry cultivars from a nursery in Oregon.

Rick was in the preliminary testing mode when Bob Bors joined the Department and tasted them in the summer of 2000 when he and Rick were giving a field tour to growers. It was June and they were already ripe. Both Bob and the growers became very excited. (Bob has yet to calm down).

The following year crosses were made among the four varieties. By 2003, thirty-three named Russian haskaps had been obtained from multiple sources. In 2004, Bob heard a talk on haskaps by Dr. Maxine Thompson at a conference. He visited her breeding program and she gave him many seeds and cuttings of Japanese haskaps to use in his breeding. That was a double whammy. Haskaps had him. Over the next decade, Bob made trips to Japan, Poland, and across Canada gathering an enormous collection of wild and cultivated haskaps. As well, he continued to obtain seed from various sources, especially Russia.

Maxine Thompson had referred to them as haskaps: the phonetic spelling of the word used by the Ainu people who settled Hokkaido, Japan in the 13th century and the world’s oldest name for this berry. Bob followed her nomenclature and haskaps they’ve become.

“We had stock from Dr. Thompson from Oregon State University and from Japan as well as seeds from Russia. Once they were in the plots I selected what was worth crossing. There were many from which to choose and they ripened at different times.”

Among the early and mid-season haskaps released in 2007 were ‘Borealis’, ‘Tundra’ and the Indigo series (‘Indigo Gem’, ‘Indigo Treat’ and ‘Indigo Yum’). ‘Aurora’ and ‘Honey Bee’ followed in 2011. Later ripening haskap releases were ‘Boreal Beauty’ and ‘Boreal Blizzard’ in 2014 and ‘Boreal Beast’ in 2016. Of these, Bob’s favourite are ‘Aurora’ and the Boreal series.


The next step was introducing the new dwarf sour cherries (and later the haskaps) to commercial fruit growers and the nursery trades. Thousands of open-pollinated plants were sold through Western Producer ads and dozens of clonally propagated selections were distributed free to carefully chosen co-operators.

Bob became the consummate marketer and publicist of both cherries and haskaps, writing a growers manual (with Linda Matthews), giving many talks and courses, leading plot tours, posting articles on the Fruit Program’s website (www.fruit.usask.ca) which gets 2 million hits per year, and taking cherries and haskaps with him for folks to taste wherever he went. Once people became aware of their existence, both fruits became very popular.

Haskap research has been funded through five Saskatchewan Agriculture grants spanning 13 years. Over the last five years (2013-2018, 75% of the program funding has come from plant patent royalties derived from their introductions. Plant sales directly to the public, held annually in early June since 2005, workshop registration fees and cherry and haskap cookbook sales have also funded their research.

Parting thoughts

Bob wishes other breeding programs would replicate the University of Saskatchewan’s style.”Many of them still operate in a traditional manner – they exclude the general public. We’re the opposite. We welcome the so-called “backyard gardener’, hand out materials, and have an annual plant sale. Grassroots connections with the general public are crucial and should not be underestimated”.

Rick feels his greatest accomplishment was simply keeping the fruit program going at times when few others in the Department were interested. He loved his work on fruit during the 47 years he was with the University and that love continues into his retirement. He believes good apples and great pears are only one generation away.

Bob’s greatest accomplishment has been “the expansion of the haskap program. We took something that did not exist and brought it forward to the point where the University of Saskatchewan has the world’s best haskap breeding program. Our haskaps taste better, ripen later and stay on the bush longer before falling off. As well, we were the first to use mechanical harvesters. We have given birth to a whole new industry.”

As well as the cherry and haskap breeding, we have continued to breed and maintain a diverse collection of over a dozen far north fruit crops in what we call the “Prairie Fruit Gene bank”.

– Sara Williams, University of Saskatchewan

Photo: Rick Sawatzky and Bob Bors are recognized for their work in the fruit industry




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Can you graft it over with carmine jewell so you dont waste those roots you worked hard to grow out? Another reason i say that is eventually the other cherries will pop up on the lower limbs of the same bush!

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I have a different plan. I have already planted Juliet in different location and also have North star. It is enough of sour cherry for me. If CP would produce, I wouldn’t plant Juliet. So I will remove it and repurpose the spot. I need to replace a currant I don’t like much with a better one, so I will plant one there, and when it starts producing well will remove the old one. I always have to play "Fifteen puzzle " in my yard :grin:. CP is too big for the spot it is in anyway - it is much more vigorous than CJ. I tried to graft it last year, but it didn’t work - both grafts didn’t take. In any case, I prefer consistent large production of more sour cherry to few sporadic sweeter ones.


That logic makes sense to me! Perhaps you can have another fruit grower in the area with more room stop by and dig it up so they can have the bush and save you some work.


I don’t want it :smile:. I am 15 mins away from Galina.


Nobody does.

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Only those, who know how stingy Crimson Passion’s production is, do not want the tree.

There are people ordering it because they read the description and fall for it.


In my area space is not an issue so we view it as “whats one more bush more or less” . Property is at a premium there. Consider i get a crop off my apricots rarely but still keep them.


That was me :grinning:


Did you give it just bone meal or ideally fish bone meal and some kelp? (very little nitrogen) I also wonder if you just force bent the branches and cut the upper ones you cant make go horizontal, if you could trick her into flowering, it seems like once people get it to flower it continues fruiting successfully for them


I agree completely or lightly girdle it would do it. Worse that could happen would be killing the tree which is happening anyway.


I’ve read conflicting information on these cherries. Apparently the varieties perform differently in different environments. The variety rankings probably depend on location and weather, in addition to usage.

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I gave it bone meal and 10-10-10. The thing is, even if I make it flower - all people report it to be lousy producer. I did a mistake when I planted it. It’s time to correct it.


I moved my Romeo and Juliet today from their temporary home to my yars. A bad time to move them but better than a 95°F day in July with the sun beating down.

Romeo flowered for me this year. I am glad this week is supposed to cool and rainy. Hopefully that lessens some of the shock.