Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A tale of 2 (or more) nursery cherry trees?

Yesterday, I was at Clarkdale Fruit Farm in Conway, MA to look at a new sweet cherry planting under a just-installed Haygrove Super Solo Tunnel.

What interested me, was the fact that there were some Radiance Pearl trees (all Gisela 5 rootstock) that were very nicely feathered, and with some branch bending, would be perfect for this hi-density cherry planting under a plastic tunnel: Pictured at left and click here for bigger picture. Notice the nicely feathered tree with small branches at just the right height. I told the grower to tie these down and he would have fruit on them next year, and this would be a very easy-to-manage central-leader sweet cherry. Immediate question: were these trees treated with Tiberon in the nursery? Or is this a variety effect? I understand these trees were from a small (ornamental) nursery in western Washington state, custom-grown for Summit Tree Sales.

Now, compare those trees to these trees: Picture and picture. This is what we more typically see in sweet cherry, rather big 'honkers' with few or no branches (whips) that are somewhat difficult to develop nice branching on for a central-leader tree. (Although they would be good for Spanish bush or KGB, as long as they have low-enough buds.) Bud removal is probably the most promising method of getting good branching on these whips or 'honkers.' (Video and video.)

It's amazing how different nursery trees can be from different sources -- a bit of a management challenge at times? JC