Q. Cherries are on my mind. I know you have spoken of them before but I guess I did not have the ears to hear then. Can you suggest the right kind? Do I need two different varieties and if so, can I plant right now safely?
A. Cherries are hit and miss in this desert climate. In some places they produce very well and other places they set nearly no fruit at all. I think this has more to do with the setting than anything else.
|Poor fruit set in Bing cherry growing in the desert. Growing suite cherries can be hit or miss. Good fruit set of cherries happens but usually in backyard locations where lawns or a pool is nearby.|
My personal observation is they set better in backyards where they are close to a lawn or a pool. I think this higher humidity may have something to do with it. They don't seem to be particularly sensitive to chilling hours or the number of hours it gets cold during the winter. They flower very nicely every year but the problem is setting fruit from these flowers.
I have not tried them but I am speculating that the so-called low chill varieties of cherries may have the same problems as traditional cherries such as Bing, Lambert and the like. You will get better fruit set with two cherries in your yard that help pollinate each other rather than relying on neighbors.
There are low chill varieties of sweet cherries that have been released and promoted for our climate such as Minnie Royal and Royal Lee which pollinate each other. I have no experience with these low chill varieties so I don't know how they will perform here. I tell people that all sweet cherries are hit and miss as I mentioned above.
You can plant from container now without too many problems. Have the hole pre-dug, the soil amended with compost and plant it from the container into a wet planting hole as quickly as possible and have the water running with a hose at the same time you are putting soil back around the roots. This will help minimize transplant shock and setbacks.