Q. From my Googling, it sounds like if I want cherries in this climate a good strain is royal Lee with Minnie Royal as a pollinator tree. Do you know if they will grow and fruit well here?
A. Cherries produce erratically in the Las Vegas Valley. In some locations cherries produce abundantly and in other locations they produce almost nothing.
For instance, at the University Orchard in North Las Vegas we produced about 15 cherries in 15 years from 17 different varieties of trees. Virtually nothing. They flowered every year abundantly, there were no freezing temperatures after flowering that would eliminate fruit but the fruit failed to mature. In other words, the fruit failed to set.
However, some people in backyard locations here have produced cherries abundantly every year. Reports to me by homeowners are anecdotal but varieties that produced here include Bing, Lambert and a few others known to have a high chilling requirement.
In the Las Vegas Valley we don’t have enough cold winter weather to satisfy fruit trees with a high chilling requirement. Picking fruit trees with the proper chilling requirement for a certain climate is thought to be a cornerstone of good fruit production.
A chilling requirement is the amount of cold temperatures fruit trees should sustain during the winter in order to flower and produce a normal crop of fruit. Most research supports the concept that all fruit trees must satisfy their chilling requirement in order to produce fruit abundantly.
My observations at the University Orchard in North Las Vegas don’t agree with this universal concept 100%. When I interview homeowners about their abundant cherry crop and the location of their trees, one common theme seems to appear; cherry trees that produce fruit abundantly are located in areas where there is higher humidity such as near a lawn area or a swimming pool. Higher humidity may also play an important role for a good crop of Hachiya persimmons.
In my opinion the location of the cherry tree is more important than selecting a variety. My recommendation would be to locate cherry trees near a lawn area or swimming pool to improve your chances of having a good crop. Otherwise it’s a crap shoot regarding cherries regardless of the variety.