The wild cherry, Prunus avium has given rise to the sweet cherry whereas the sour cherry, Prunus cerasus has given rise to the acid cherry. Sweet cherries are larger and have a firmer flesh than acid cherries. Sweet cherries can be eaten straight from the tree or can be used for culinary purposes whereas the acid cherry is purely for culinary purposes.
Cherries are early flowering so they require protection from frost, sweet cherries need a sheltered site in full sun, or they can be fan-trained against a south or south-west facing wall or fence, acid cherries are less fussy but both types need deep, moist but well-drained soil (pH 6.5-6.7).
Rootstocks in order of their vigour are outlined below: –
Gisela 5 – Dwarf. This rootstock is 60% smaller than Colt making it an ideal rootstock for growing cherries in patio pots. Needs to be grown in fertile soil. Trees grown on this rootstock will reach a height of 2.5-3m. Trees grown on this rootstock will bear fruit within 3 years. Use for bushes and fans.
Colt – Semi-Vigorous. A very productive rootstock which will grow on a wide range of soils. Trees grown on this rootstock will reach a height of 4-5m. Trees grown on this rootstock will bear fruit within 4-5 years. Use for bushes, half-standards, pyramids and fans.
F.12.1 – Very Vigorous. Suitable for a wide range of soils including poor soils and grassed orchards. Staking is preferable but not necessary if planted as a one year old. Stake for the first 3 years if planted as 2 or 3 year old trees. Trees grown on this rootstock will reach a height of 6m. Trees grown on this rootstock will bear fruit within 5-6 years. Use for standards.
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