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top working sour cherry?

Posted by windfall_rob vt4 (My Page) on
Sat, Nov 30, 13 at 11:19

Wondering what folks have experienced or recomned in terms of completely top working sour cherries?

I have 3 Evans(Bali) cherries and have been very unimpressed with them at our location....light croploads, very little flesh to pit, poor flavor, and HAMMERED by PC....and this was in comparison to 3-4 other varieites that are doing beautifully for us.

I would like to work over two of them. they are about 4" at the base with several low scaffolds in the 1.5-2" range.

can I treat them like I would an apple? cut the scaffolds back to stubs and bark graft in scion?

I have had good success in recent years grafting in cherry, but it has been whip grafts to small branches, or budding to stuff no larger than 1/2". All near the existing tops of the trees (other trees)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: top working sour cherry?

I would cut back, not all the way, about 2 foot up and let vigorous shoots form, then graft on these the next season.


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RE: top working sour cherry?

I have done just as you suggest with native pin cherry (first branches up 10+ feet), and the resulting grafts took well. But without growth at the original cut fungus has taken hold on these guys, with 1/2 of the trunks clearly rotten...the other side is growing strong, but I think that strategy has significantly shortened the life of those trees.
Perhaps not...I have seen some pretty old trees with only one side living...


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RE: top working sour cherry?

Rob, our Evans cherries produce huge amounts of large fruit and we are not that far away from you. Likely your Evans are seedlings. We have 3 problems with Evans, Brown rot due to the size of the clusters, Blossom blast in wet years ( bacterial canker wiping out the blossoms), and the jam they make is very light in color, pinkish, so we mix in darker cherries to get redder color. If you would like to try grafting some of our Evans onto your rootstock you can come and get some this winter. We have grafted Balaton, Meteor, and Sure Fire onto Evans trees, and while the graft unions swell and look bad, the trees grow to good size and produce well.

What I have been doing when top grafting larger branches is putting a pencil sized scion into a "t" graft on the top surface of the branch, heavily cutting back the rest of the foliage on the branch (but leave some), and letting it grow and get vigorous for a year before cutting the main branch above the graft. This lessens the amount of time the wood is open before it heals over. Painting the stub with copper then applying bees wax from a toilet ring (very sticky) seems to seal it from everything except canker, but I do not have scientific evidence this really helps.


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RE: top working sour cherry?

It seems like this is how it goes with Evans...people either have tremendous success or they really dud out. And it does make me wonder why. We are close to you folks, although our soils differ quite a bit and our weather some.

I suppose it is possible my trees are not true to name. The grafted trees I want to work over came from Elmore roots, and I am pretty sure they got their material from Bill Mckintly at Saint lawrence Nursery who pretty much brought the evans into the states (and renamed it Bali). The third tree is supposedly tissue culture and on its own roots. It has not fruited yet and I continue to give it the benefit of the doubt, as there are a number of folks who seem to think this makes a marked difference for this variety.

I appreciate the offer for scion (the plums you gave me a few years ago are going great, and much of it fruited well this year) but I am thinking of swapping these over to more mesabi or possibly Montmorency.

I do like the sound of the technique you out lined for working them over. When you refer to a "t graft" I am imagining this as a bark graft... correct?


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RE: top working sour cherry?

  • Posted by skyjs z8 OR, USA (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 30, 13 at 22:18

Make sure that when you prune or graft your cherries or other stone fruit, to do it on dry days, preferably with a couple of dry days on either side, so fungus, as mentioned here, doesn't enter into the tree.
John S
PDX OR


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RE: top working sour cherry?

Hello, the T graft is the traditional bud graft where you cut a "T" into the bark peel it up a little and slide the bud in and tape it I do this with small twigs, and in the summer with green tips (works well with peaches) and tape it tightly with rubber bands then put parafilm over it to insure a seal. If it is hot out I also cover the twig with parafilm to keep it from drying out before it heals. I use the laboratory parafilm, as it stretches better and is easier to seal, you can get it on EBAY. Only do this on the top of the branches because the weight of the scion will pull itself off if it is on the bottom.


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RE: top working sour cherry?

On stumps I'd be using Dr. Farwell's heal & seal, paint or spray paint with latex, or use wood glue.

In the link, showing bark grafting sweet cherry to pin cherry.

Here is a link that might be useful: Konrad's modified bark grafting


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RE: top working sour cherry?

Too bad you are having such trouble with your Evans. I just wanted to mention that my Evans behaves a lot differently than the other pie cherries I have. The cherries don't start to show color until the end of July, but still don't have any flesh on the pits. I leave them at least 2 to 3 weeks after turning red before trying, and several times haven't picked until the end of August. It seems the fruit doesn't flesh up at all until it is fully red, then it is quite astringent until it has finished sizing up. I mention this because Evans is now my favorite pie cherry, but the first time it fruited I was ready to cut it down as I tried it just barely red. No meat, very astringent. Just nasty. The next year I waited, and WOW what a difference.


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RE: top working sour cherry?

I appreciate the info beeone.
The trees have been fruiting for 3-4 years now. And I have tried letting portions of the crop hang all summer...still as described earlier. The flavor gets OK but the flesh is minimal, the crop load is minimal, and they get heavily beat on by PC (which is especially odd as the other trees are almost untouched). So It's hard to keep giving them the space when my other varieties are coming in so well....hopefully the PC won't move over to the winners if I take these out!

I really do not understand it, but I have heard numerous reports from others similar to mine. It seems there is some variable that gets these trees fussy....


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RE: top working sour cherry?

Hello, another possibility besides location, as this variety has been successful in many places, is either someone has been propagating trees with a virus so all the prodigy are infected in the same way, or there was a mutation in the tissue culture and the mutant took over (this happened to Cornell on one of their apple rootstocks). I got my tree in the mid 90's, and have been propagating it thru suckers, as it suckers profusely. I have trees in clay as well as stony loam and they all do well. Suckers as short as 2' bloom and bear full sized fruit

You might want to think about just pulling them out.


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RE: top working sour cherry?

Your could well be right, a virus or mutation getting propagated out could well explain the split results I hear about and the poor results I have experienced...starting fresh may be the safest option.
I will be very curious to see if my tree from tissue culture behaves differently.

It would be interesting to see if others with poor results could trace their source material back to a common origin....but I doubt that will happen, more of an intellectual exercise.


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