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‘Craig’s Crimson’ sweet cherry (photo courtesy of Mike Tomlinson/Dave Wilson Nursery)
‘Craig’s Crimson’ sweet cherry (photo courtesy of Mike Tomlinson/Dave Wilson Nursery)

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Zone
Zones 2A, 2B, 4-7, 14, 15, 32, 34-37, 39
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Cherry, Sweet

Mazzard Cherry
Rosaceae
Deciduous, Edible fruit, Trees

Native to Eurasia, this species has given rise to the most common market-type cherries.

Trees are 30–35 ft. tall, as broad as high in some varieties. They’re at their best in deep, well-drained soil in Zones 2, 6–9, 14, 15, 32, 34–37, 39, but the right varieties can be grown in some adjacent zones.

They have a high chilling requirement (need many winter hours below 45°F/7°C) and are therefore not adapted to mild-winter climates. They can’t take extreme summer heat or intense winter cold; frosts or rain in spring can damage crop.

In most cases, two trees are needed to produce fruit, and the second tree must be chosen with care. No combination of these will produce fruit: ‘Bing’, ‘Lambert’, ‘Royal Ann’ (they will not pollinate each other).

The following varieties will pollinate any other cherry: ‘Angela’, ‘Black Tartarian’, ‘Republican’, ‘Sam’, ‘Stella’ (though ‘Stella’ will not pollinate ‘Bing’ in mild-winter climates), and ‘Van’. However, because ‘Lambert’ blooms late, it is pollinated best by ‘Republican’. ‘Craig’s Crimson’, ‘Glacier’, ‘Lapins’, ‘Stella’, and ‘Sweetheart’ are self-fruitful (a lone tree will bear).

Cherry trees are easier to grow and harvest when grown on a dwarfing rootstock, such as the Giessen 148 series. Such trees can easily be maintained at less than half the size of those growing on standard rootstocks.

Fruiting spurs are long-lived, do not need to be renewed by pruning. Prune trees only to maintain good structure and shape. Fruit appears in late spring to early summer. Use netting to keep birds from eating the crop.

For control of brown rot and blossom blight, apply a copper spray just as leaves drop in autumn, then a fungicide when first blooms appear and weekly during bloom. Resume fungicide program about 2 weeks before harvest or if fruit rot begins to appear.

Good sanitation will also help limit disease—remove any mummified fruit and prune out and discard diseased twigs as soon as you see them. Spray horticultural oil during the dormant period to control many kinds of pests and diseases, including scale insects and mites.

These are among the best varieties.

‘Angela’. Small, glossy black fruit with excellent flavor. Resists cracking. Midseason to late.

‘Bing’. Top quality. Large, dark red, meaty fruit of fine flavor. Midseason.

‘Black Tartarian’. Fruit smaller than that of ‘Bing’, purplish black, firm, sweet. Early.

‘Craig’s Crimson’. Medium to large, deep red to black; superb flavor. Naturally dwarf (about two-thirds normal size). Self-fruitful. Midseason.

‘Early Burlat’. Like ‘Bing’; ripens 2 weeks earlier.

‘Early Ruby’. Dark red, purple-fleshed early cherry that performs well in all sweet cherry areas. ‘Black Tartarian’, ‘Royal Ann’, ‘Van’ are all good pollenizers. Early.

‘Emperor Francis’. Medium-size, light red fruit with fine flavor. Favorite in the Northwest. Early.

‘Hardy Giant’. Dark red fruit resembles ‘Bing’. Good pollenizer, especially for ‘Lambert’. Midseason.

‘Kristin’. Large black fruit resists cracking. One of the hardiest sweet cherries; worth a try in Zones A2, A3, 1. Midseason.

‘Lambert’. Very large, very firm black fruit. Flavor sprightlier than ‘Bing’. Late.

‘Lapins’. Resembles ‘Bing’ but is self-fruitful. Early to midseason.

‘Mona’. Resembles ‘Black Tartarian’ but is larger. Very early.

‘Rainier’. Has yellow skin with pink blush; fruit ripens a few days before ‘Bing’.

‘Republican’ (‘Black Republican’, ‘Black Oregon’). Large, spreading tree. Small, round, purplish black fruit with dark juice, tender yet crisp texture. Good flavor. Late.

‘Royal Ann’ (‘Napoleon’). Large, spreading tree; very productive. Light yellow fruit with pink blush; tender, crisp. Sprightly flavor. Midseason.

‘Sam’. Vigorous tree. Large, firm black fruit have excellent flavor. Midseason to late.

‘Stella’. Dark fruit like ‘Lambert’; ripens a few days later. Self-fruitful and a good pollenizer for other cherries. ‘Compact Stella’ is similar, but tree is half the size.

‘Sweet Ann’. Medium-size fruit is yellow with a red blush. Excellent flavor. Midseason.

‘Sweetheart’. Large, bright red; excellent flavor. Self-fruitful and heavy bearing. Late.

‘Utah Giant’. Ripens with ‘Bing’ but is larger, sweeter; develops sweetness even before fully ripe. Holds color when processed. Pollinate with ‘Van’ or ‘Stella’.

‘Van’. Heavy-bearing tree. Shiny black fruit, firmer and slightly smaller than ‘Bing’. Good flavor.

‘Vandalay’. Large, black; excellent flavor. Self-fruitful; resists cracking. Midseason.

‘White Gold’. Large, yellow with red blush; fine flavor. Self-fruitful and heavy bearing; resists cracking. Midseason.

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