Fruit - The Cherry
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
In recent years the high prices for which cherries have sold have put this very desirable fruit in the list of luxuries. According to George T. Powell of Columbia county, New York, "this applies particularly to sweet cherries. It has been difficult to get orchards of sweet cherries started and established. There are two kinds of stock used in propagating sweet cherries the Mazzard and the Mahaleb. The Mahaleb works easier, but the tree is shorter lived, while the union between bud and stock is not always good. If trees can be had on Mazzard stock they will be much better. It is better to plant small trees, one and two years old. They suffer less in removal from the nursery, and will be more certain to grow.
"The site for a cherry orchard should be elevated and a north or west exposure chosen. Free circulation of air is necessary, as the fruit will rot much less under such conditions. Never plant in hollow or low places, as the fruit will be practically lost every year by rot in such places. The soil should be good, but not too rich, as the trees grow luxuriantly, and their bodies crack and burst on rich soil. They should be branched low in forming the tops of the trees, as they will grow 5o feet high. For two years the soil should be cultivated, or until the trees are well established and are making good growth; after that they will do better to be left in sod, cutting the grass and letting it lie upon the ground as a mulch.
"The trees need only slight pruning, sufficient to give them well-balanced heads. After five years little or no pruning will be required, if they are well formed by that time. The Black Tartarian and Black Eagle are among the finest varieties, but they are half hardy only, and should not be planted where the mercury goes to 12 degrees below zero.
" The Yellow Spanish, Windsor, Robert's Red Heart, Downer's Late Red, are among the best varieties to plant for home use or for market. We have picked 400 pounds of Robert's Red Heart from one tree and sold the fruit for $40. At present it would readily sell for $80.
"In picking sweet cherries much injury is often done to the trees by breaking off the slender spurs upon which the fruit is borne. The yield is frequently reduced one-third or more from this cause. The culture of the sweet cherry may be made exceedingly profitable if its requirements are carefully observed.
The sour cherries are more universally planted, for they are hardier and more easily grown. They are somewhat dwarfed in character and do not make as large trees. While the sweet cherries require 30 feet space each way, the sour varieties may be planted 16 to 18 feet. These should be two years of age when planted.
"The May Duke is one of the best and most desirable for an early market variety. Reine Hortense is also good, but for the general market and for all purposes the large Montmorency is the most profitable. Sour cherries will do well in fairly rich moist soil. Cultivation will be well for them a part of the time, every other year seeding to clover for a cover crop to occupy the lanci for one year.
The sour cherries are used extensively for canning. They are picked in 10 pound baskets and carefully assorted into 8-pound baskets, also in strawberry quarts, and shipped. One cent a pound is paid for picking and women are paid io to 12 cents an hour for assorting and packing. The sour cherries sell for 6 to 9 cents a pound, and as 150 trees may be planted upon an acre, and they will, at 15 years, average 100 to 125 pounds to a tree, they are one of the most profitable fruits grown."
Concerning varieties, S. D. Willard of Ontario county, New York, writes : "I have had 30 years' experience in growing cherries, and during this time have found the following varieties best adapted to the clay loam of my farm: Early Richmond, Montmorency, Windsor, Rockport, Napoleon, Yellow Spanish, and English Morello. Except for removing interlocking or dead limbs I do not prune the trees, which are, however, trained when small so as to form well-shaped heads. When properly opened by judicious arrangement of the branches, so as to admit light and air, there is rarely occasion for spraying.
"On recently planted trees I give no cultivation, 'because it is the general opinion that bearing cherry trees do best in sod. No commercial fertilizer is given. In the order of ripening, Early Richmond, a sour variety, is first, then comes Rockport, a sweet cherry. Picking is begun usually about the middle of June and the crop is shipped in 8 and 10 pound baskets. The price usually ranges from 5 to io cents a pound. Sweet cherries are generally set 25 to 30 feet apart, and sour 20 feet. If possible, a new orchard should be planted in the fall, but if this cannot be done, it is better to buy trees in the autumn and hold for spring planting, as it is next to impossible to have trees dug and shipped in the spring before the buds swell, and the vitality of the cherry trees is always injured if growth is commenced before the trees are dug."
"As soon as ground is dry in the spring," says C. K. Scoon of Ontario county, New York, " I use a gang plow in the cherry orchard, going down 2 or 3 inches. Care should be taken not to go deeper than this, as the cherry roots are near the surface. The orchard is harrowed once a week, or often enough to keep the weeds down and a fine mulch on the surface, until the crop ripens. I then sow a cover crop or let grass and weeds cover the ground, For a fertilizer, I formerly used potash and phosphoric acid, but I am convinced that my soil does not need potash. I now use phosphoric acid only, at the rate of 3 or 4 pounds a tree, sowed broadcast in the spring and harrowed in.
" Of varieties I have found Montmorency and English Morello are the only kinds of special value. They are the only kinds I grow to any extent. Montmorency ripens about July 6 and the other variety about ten days later. Some of my larger trees have yielded 150 pounds, but half of this amount is considered a good crop."