Soil and Situation. Well-drained, loamy soils or loam over chalk are most suitable. Cherries do not thrive on badly drained soils, heavy clays, nor on light sands. They bloom early and are subject to frost damage. In consequence, very exposed positions or damp valleys liable to catch frost are unsuitable. Soil preparation is the same as for apples, except that manure or compost may be used at 1 cwt. to 10 or 12 sq. yd., according to the nature of the soil.
Planting. Season and method are the same as for apples. Fan-trained trees should be spaced 15 ft. apart.
Forms of Trees. As a rule these are fan trained, bush, half-standard, and standard. Occasionally cherries are grown as single or double stemmed cordons, but they are not very suitable for this method of training. Fan-trained trees are planted against walls or fences; bushes, half-standards, and standards in the open, the last two often grassed under.
Pruning. For this purpose, cherries fall into two distinct groups. Sweet cherries and the Duke cherries form spurs like apples. The sour cherries such as Morello and Amarelles do not form spurs so freely but fruit also on the previous year’s growth. Hard pruning is not desirable with any cherries, as it is inclined to encourage gummosis. Standards, half standards, and bushes can be pruned lightly. Only badly placed or crossing branches and shoots need be removed together with damaged or diseased wood. This is best done in March, just before the trees come into flower.
Trained trees must be kept in hand. SWEET AND DUKE CHERRIES should be summer and winter pruned in a similar manner to trained apples, except that wherever there is room young laterals should be trained in at full length. The summer work should start in June and be completed by August. Winter pruning is best deferred till March.
With SOUR CHERRIES a process known as ‘disbudding’ is carried out throughout the summer. Most young side growths are rubbed out at an early stage, but at least two are retained for each fruiting growth, one as near its base as possible, the other at its tip. In the autumn the old fruiting growth is cut out and the young shoot, retained near its base, is trained in to take its place.
Pruning Young Trees. In the early stages rather harder pruning is necessary to form the tree. Leaders may be shortened by a half or two-thirds. All cuts should be made to outward-pointing buds. Fan trained trees should be prevented from forming a central stem. Cut this back to 18 in. from soil level and so force branching from near the base. Branches should be spread like the ribs of a fan. Training wires or bamboos must be used for this purpose.
Pollination. Most sweet cherries are self-sterile, i.e. they will not bear fruit if pollinated with their own pollen. In addition, some varieties are inter-sterile, i.e. their pollen is ineffective when
transferred from one to the other. The only varieties which are fully self-fertile are Morello and Amarelles. The Duke cherries, i.e. May Duke, Late Duke, Archduke, etc., are partially self-fertile, but set much better crops when interplanted with other sour cherries. Other varieties may be classified in groups. The varieties within any group are infertile one with the other. Any kind may be planted with a variety from any other group.
Picking. This should start as soon as fruits part readily from the branches. Fruits usually ripen unevenly and on any one tree several pickings should be made. Cherries cannot be stored and should be used as gathered, but they bottle well.
Routine Pest Control. Apart from dealing with pests or diseases as noted it is customary to spray cherries with tar-oil wash early in January and fix grease bands around the trees in mid-September. If red spider is troublesome, spray with lime sulphur summer strength immediately before and after flowering.
Propagation. By budding during July and August on to a suitable stock. The process is the same as for apples. Gean is the best stock for all forms. In different parts of the country it is known as Mazzard and Gaskin. It can be increased vegetatively and, in this way, superior types can be kept true. Mailing F.12/1 is such a selection.
Varieties of Cherry. Archduke (C), July; Bedford Prolific (D), July; Bigarreau de Mezel (D), July—Aug.; Bigarreau de Schrecken (D), June; Bigarreau Jaboulay (D), June; *Black Tartarian (D), July; Early Rivers (D), June; Elton Heart (D), July; Emperor Francis Bigarreau (D), Aug.; Flemish Red (C), July; Florence (D), Aug.; Frogmore Early (D), July; Geante d’Hedelfingen (D), Aug.; Governor Wood (D), July; Guigne D’Annonay (D), June; Kentish Bigarreau (D), July; Kentish Red (C), July; Knight’s Early Black (D),
June; Ludwig’s Bigarreau (D), July; May Duke (CD), June;
Merton Bigarreau (D), July; Merton Heart (D), July; Merton
Premier (D), July; Morello (C), Aug.; Napoleon Bigarreau
(D), Aug.; Noble (Tradescant’s Heart), (D), July; Noir de
Guben (D), July; Peggy Rivers (D), July; Roundel Heart
(D), July; Royal Duke (CD), July; Turkey Heart (D), Sept.; Ursula Rivers (D), July; Waterloo (D), June; White Heart (D), July.
*There are several distinct forms bearing this name and now distinguished by the letters A, B, C, D or E after the name. There are also three distinct varieties of Bigarreau de Mezel but these have not been given distinguishing letters.
(Note. — The months are those in which the fruits normally ripen. C indicates cooking, D dessert.)