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Best low chill cherry combo?

Posted by simon_grow San Diego Zone 10 (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 22, 12 at 15:30

Hello everyone, my wife and I decided we are going to plant some cherry trees in San Diego. There are so many new varieties of low chill cherries that I can't decide on which varieties to get.

On Dave Wilson's website they have very new varieties like Royal Edie+Royal Helen, Minnie Roya+Royal Lee and Royal Rainier+Lapins.

Has anyone tasted any of these varieties? We prefer very sweet fruit that is large and very firm and we are leaning towards Royal Rainier and Lapins. I love regular Rainier cherries and hope the Royal Rainier tastes similar. Lapins is supposed to be very large, sweet and very firm. I appreciate any info on these varieties. Thanks in advance,

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Best low chill cherry combo?

Well, for us in the home hobby market, the two best choices for low chill cherries close to the ocean (you didn't put your Sunset zone - much more helpful in California than the meaningless USDA zone), will be Minnie Royal and Royal Lee. In fact, they were tested RIGHT on the coast in both San Diego and Orange counties with resounding success in both counties. Not so sure you're going to be able to find Royal Edie or Royal Helen at retail outlets, and I believe they may be better suited to inland California valley areas (i.e., San Joaquin valley, which is WAY colder than us), which will get significantly (relatively speaking for us Californians) more chill hours. I have both Minnie Royal and Royal Lee in my yard, and will have my first crop this year, I hope. I have tried them both, and they are very good. I like Royal Lee a bit better because to me it's a bit sweeter, but then, I like my stone fruits REALLY sweet, not tart at all, so I would suspect both cherries would appeal to any cherry loverl. Cherries are probably the one stone fruit that is particular about their chill hours. If you really are in San Diego, within say 6 miles of the coast, you're just not nearly going to be close to the chill hours needed for Royal Rainier, nor Royal Helen I suspect. Both Royal Lee and Minnie Royal were specifically developed for us at the S. Calif. coast. I am in Vista, in the hills about 6 miles in from the ocean. I probably get 300 to maybe 350 chill hours max, and I'm probably colder than you all, if you are in San Diego proper. I've included a nice link for you to see if you can estimate your chill hours by looking at the closest weather station. My best comparison would be the Mira Mar station, based on the miles inland. However, if you really want the skinny on the best cherries for your specific area, contact Tom Spellman at DWN. He is the S. California Sales Specialist, and was very involved with both the Minnie Royal and Royal Lee development, and can give you the very best advice.

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: UC Davis Pomology Weather Services - Cumulative Chilling Hours by Calif. County

RE: Best low chill cherry combo?


Unless something very new has happened there are only two truly low chill varieties that you can buy, Minnie Royal and Royal Lee. These require only about 200 hrs chilling. They have others but you can't buy them retail. You could buy them wholesale in bundles of 10 trees per variety.

Royal Rainier and Lapins are about 500 hrs chilling and probably aren't going to work for you.

RE: Best low chill cherry combo?

Thank you very much Patty and fruitnut. I don't know which Sunset zone I am in but I live in Mira Mesa which is right next to Miramar. I am also about 6 miles from the coast and according to the link you provided, we got about 340 hours so far this year. Minnie Royal and Royal Lee are the sure bets but I'm so tempted to get the Royal Rainier because I love Rainier cherries.

Patty, are the Royal Lee cherries about the same sweetness as the Bing cherries in the grocery store or would you say they are slightly better? Thanks again for all the great info and the link!

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