Cherry Pollination 


Most sweet cherries require pollination by another sweet cherry to produce fruit. Black Gold, Hartland and Whitegold are self-pollinating – but the yield of each of those will improve if you plant a pollinator. Almost any combinations of two sweet cherries will do the trick.


The only exception to this rule is that Kristin and Emperor Frances cannot pollinate each other, but they can pollinate almost all other sweet cherries. So if you plant both of those, you will still need another cherry to pollinate each of them.


All tart varieties are self-pollinating and do not need another cherry to pollinate.

About Cherries 


Evidence of sweet cherry production dates from pre-historic Asia. Pliny, the elder refers to the popularity of cherries in the Roman Empire. As with most other fruits, they came to America with the earliest settlers in Virginia. Whether George Washington really chopped down a cherry tree in the 18th century is open to debate, but the story serves to highlight the importance of this very delicious fruit in colonial America.

Modern day cherry production began in the mid-1880’s in the Pacific Northwest and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The relatively dry climate and coolish summers are perfect for growing sweet cherries. Today, the United States is the leading cherry producer in the world.
Cherries fall into two basic types: Sweet and Tart. Sweet cherries require a good deal of care to grow in most areas of the East and Mid-West where the summer climate is relatively humid. They need careful attention in terms of regular spraying.

Cherry Pruning


Cherries are one of the most attractive of all fruit trees. They will naturally form a well balanced shape similar to the popular flowering cherries such as Kwanzan and Yoshino, with just a little coaxing. And when they bloom, fruiting cherries have a beautiful, white show of flowers in the early spring.


First year pruning sets the eventual shape of the tree.  If your tree is taller than 4-5' above ground, after its planted, trim it down to that height. Pick out the dominant branch that is the most vertical at the top of the tree.  This will be your central leader.  Thin out the inward growing branches and any branches which are crossing over each other. Trim off the tips of the larger branches to encourage growth. See the pruning diagram for a before and after look at the branches.


In later years, you should continue “shape” your tree.  Cherry trees are best trained to a central leader (uppermost upright limb).  This is the natural way your pear tree will want to grow.  Pruning will keep your tree vigorous, encourage the establishment of fruit buds and enable you to keep your tree down to a manageable size.


It is generally best to prune cherry trees when the weather is hot. Do not prune in the winter or late fall or early spring. Bacterial diseases are present in all non-arid environments and are particularly detrimental to sweet cherries. These bacteria are most active in cool, wet weather. So wait until the tree has leafed out and the warm late spring weather patterns are well established  usually by the end of May - to prune your cherry trees.

Bird Protection Strategies

All cherries need some protection from birds. Some growers place netting on the tree prior to ripening.  You can also plant a “decoy” to feed the birds with something else that they like. Illinois Mulberry trees can play this role for you. The birds are attracted to the mulberries and eat that fruit leaving the cherries alone for you.


Fruit that harbors bugs usually ripens sooner. So if some of your cherries are bug eaten, they will turn red sooner than the untouched ones. The birds will go for the red, buggy ones, giving you time to get the nice fruit as it ripens. Yellow or yellow/red cherries are less attractive to birds than the red or black ones.


Some home orchardists try wind chimes and other noise makers to put the birds off guard. Others try various forms of colorful scarecrows or reflecting ornaments.  Some simply try to outpick the birds, and get enjoyment in knowing that they have provided a nice meal to our feathered friends.