The Romans introduced the cherry to this country but there is no mention of its cultivation by early writers. During the fifteenth century cherries were offered in the streets of London by the prototypes of our modern barrow boys. Such fruits may well have come from Kent which was then, as now, famous for its cherries. Cambridgeshire, Worcestershire, and Herefordshire also grow first rate cherries. A cherry tree needs a great deal of room and takes some years to come into bearing. Unfortunately no variety of sweet cherry is self-fertile and a second variety must always be planted as a pollinator. At present there is no dwarfing stock for cherries as with apples. When the East Mailing classification of cherry stocks is complete a wide range of growth variations may be expected, and this development would be most acceptable to those with small gardens who are at present unable to plant a compact growing cherry.

Pending the availability of new stocks, sweet cherries are usually grown on mazzard or gean and sour cherries, including the morello, on maha-leb. The Mailing F 12/1 stock is useful for areas where bacterial canker is troublesome.

Cultivation. Cherries do best on deep, well-drained, light to medium soils, especially those overlying chalk. In areas of high rainfall there is a tendency to develop fungus diseases such as bacterial canker and brown rot, and the fruits are more liable to split.

Plant bushes and cherries grown on walls not less than 20 ft. apart and standards 40 ft. Morellos may go 18 ft. apart as bushes or 15 ft. on walls. Cherries are extremely vigorous and over-manuring delays cropping. Cherries grown on walls benefit from a mulch of farmyard manure or compost after the fruits have set and need copious supplies of water during dry weather. Morellos need more manure than sweet cherries. Hard pruning is recommended during the first 4 or 5 years, but after the head has been formed it is sufficient merely to remove overcrowded, diseased and dead wood. The branches of sweet cherries on walls should be spaced out fan-wise, about 5ft. apart. Pinch back growths to about the fifth leaf from the base during the growing period, cutting strong growths completely away. Shorten in September to 3 buds — this reduces the likelihood of silver leaf. Once the desired shape has been secured, little pruning is needed. Morellos grow less strongly than sweet cherries and are successful even on north walls. They fruit on the previous season’s wood, and the growths continually extend, leaving barren wood behind. Removal of all old wood would be impossible since much of the new wood is at the end of the old shoots. Cutting an occasional branch hard back in early autumn will stimulate growths and pinching out the growing tips of young shoots in June will cause new buds to break.

How to Pick Cherries:

Sweet cherries are picked without removing the stalk, but with morellos the stalk should be cut from the twig with scissors or a knife to avoid damaging the bark and thereby making an entrance for fungus spores.

Choice of Varieties:

The fact that two or more particular varieties of cherries flower together is no guarantee that they will fertilise one another. It is extremely important to ensure that suitable pollinators are chosen — one sweet cherry alone is quite useless.

Sweet Cherries:

Bigarreau Napoleon. Late July. Pollinators: Early Rivers, Noble, Waterloo.

Black Heart. Mid-July. Pollinators: Early Rivers, Bigarreau Napoleon.

Early Rivers. Mid-June. Resistant to bacterial canker. Pollinators: Black Heart, Waterloo.

Merton Heart. Late June. Pollinator: Early Rivers.

Waterloo. Early July. Pollinators: Bedford Prolific, Early Rivers.

White Heart. Early July. Pollinator: Early Rivers.

Relatively Sour Cherries:

Late Duke. Ready in late August. Does well on west walls. Self-fertile. Morello. Ready about mid-July. Strong grower and heavy cropper. Fruits rather acid unless eaten when fully ripe. Excellent for preserves, bottling and for cooking. Liable to brown rot. Self-fertile.

Insect Pests and Fungus Diseases:

Caterpillars. Cherry trees should be grease-banded in early autumn to trap the wingless female winter moths. Where grease-banding and/or winter spraying have not effected complete control of the caterpillars they must be destroyed by the use of Pyrethrin or a derris preparation. These should be applied as soon as sufficient leaf area has developed. Cherry Black Fly. Winter spraying with tar-oil or DNC petroleum destroys the eggs. If this has not been done BHC, applied either as a dust or in liquid form directly the pests are noticed, is recommended. Bacterial Canker. This disease is described under PLUM. It differs only in that cherries suffer from branch rather then stem infections. Control measures are identical. Early Rivers and Governor Wood are resistant. Trees grown on the Mailing rootstock F 12-1 are resistant. Brown Rot. Symptoms: This is similar to the brown rot fungus which attack apples and plums. It is perhaps more common on morellos than on sweet cherries. Wet weather at the time of picking often results in split cherries, thereby providing and entry for the fungus spores. Treatment: All diseased and/or dead wood should be removed directly it is noticed, and affected fruits must also be destroyed. Tar-oil winter washing gives some degree of control.

Gumming. Symptoms: A thick stream of gum seeps out from branches and stems, which subsequently collapse and die. This is usually associated with bacterial canker.

Gumming is sometimes caused by careless pruning, e.g. severe pruning carried out during the dormant season. Remember always to make clean, sharp cuts. See PRUNUS for flowering or ornamental cherries.

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