52002 Range Road 232
Sherwood Park, AB T8B 1B3
The University of Saskatchewan introduces
HARDY PRAIRIE CHERRIES
At The Berry Farm (at Christies Corner)
The University of Saskatchewan released their new cherries for sale to the general public in 2006. These cherries are the result of breeding work since the 1940s in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They are growing without irrigation after establishment, in heavy clay soil with a pH of 8. The will grow between 4 and perhaps up to 8 feet high, depending on conditions, and up to three/four feet wide.
A significant advantage of producing cherries on the Prairies is the reduced incidence of pest problems. Eastern growers require from eight to sixteen or more spray applications to control a variety of diseases and insect pests. Experience at the University of Saskatchewan suggests that no more than one or two applications would be needed to control cherry fruit flies and leaf rollers. These cherries are good candidates for organic production.
The U of S cherries are bush fruit with dwarf stature- a mature height of about 8 feet tall unlike tart cherries that are 15-25 feet tall. The shrub like habit and the fact that fruit holds well on the bush - doesn't drop - means the fruit will wait on the bush to ripen, while getting sweeter and sweeter. When very ripe, just give the branches about five shakes to remove all the fruit. Harvest tree in just a few minutes. If fruit is holding on, try again in a few days. High yielding! Mature trees produce from 10 to 15 (20-30 (+) lbs.) kilos of fruit per bush. Size of quarters! The fruits are dark red and high in sugar. As much or more sugar than Bing cherries! Plants are self-fertile and one can expect the first harvest within 3 years of planting.
Juliette - Sweetest: Nicknamed after Dr. Bob Bors, plant breeder and professor at the University of Saskatchewan - another fresh eating type. The University affectionately calls it "Sweetie" with large fruit at 4.5 grams. Few suckers.
Cupid - Latest: Most years, this is the largest of all the cherries weighing in at 6 to 7 grams! Good flavour for fresh eating with a hint of astringency. Blooms 1 week later than the other cherries.
Plant at level depth with top of soil on plant. Does not need heavy black dirt necessarily. These cherries grow in prairie clayey or sandy soils. Fertilize only in spring until all fruit has been harvested (usually mid to late July or early August depending on the year) and use a low nitrogen fertilizer (0-5-5 or 5-10-10 or a similar numbering, etc.). Ensure that the last two of the three fertilizer numbers are higher than the first one. Fertilizer is labelled N- P-K numbers (N=Nitrogen, P=Phosphorus, and K=Potassium). The first number promotes leafy growth, and the last two support good roots, stems, and fruiting requirements.
Don't over water after fruiting. It's okay to cut back a bit on the watering and almost let the bush dry out a bit (but don't let it totally dry out!!) between waterings to help it prepare the stems, roots, and fruit buds for next year's production.
It takes full sun and will need at least 6 to 8 hours per day of sun. If there is deep shade or little sunlight, it will grow (perhaps slowly or stunted depending on how little light it receives), but it will only produce little, if any, fruit.
Exact conditions may vary, but these are the general recommendations.
It should not need any pesticides except maybe a little insecticidal soap for fruit flies or aphids (never use laundry soap on plants).
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