Sour cherries at the University of

7 year old Carmine Jewel at Bozeman, MT. Grass kept away, fertilized with manure.

Tart Cherry Benefits

6 benefits - NDTV Food

Growing Cherries

Dwarf sour cherries prefer well-drained, sandy loam or loam soils, with a pH between 6.5 and 8.0. It is very important to keep perrenial weeds away from them as they stunt the trees' growth. Organic matter level between 2-3% is very important if you have clay or sandy soil. They do well under mulch. Water them a few times deeply to get them established. Here is one customer's story from Iowa, a visit to a cherry orchard in Saskatchewan, and an interview with a cherry picker at our orchard in Minnesota.

Size of full grown dwarf sour cherries is dependent on several factors. While listed at 6 1/2 feet tall in zone 2 in Canada, they can reach 12 feet in height in zone 4. Keeping encroaching grass and weeds away is also critical, as is appropriate moisture. Cherries do not like wet feet, but thrive with consistent watering especially the first three years. Pruning excess growth from the center of the bushes in late winter/early spring is also beneficial. Michigan State U affirms modest pruning can be done post-harvest on mature trees that have filled their space.

Ripening sequence in Saskatoon, SK (zone 2):

-Carmine Jewel (late July)
-Crimson Passion
-Evans Bali
Peak bloom times in 2015 zone 3a:
- Juliet - May 15
- Romeo - May 20
- Carmine Jewel - May 21
- Cupid - May 23
More info: VARIATIONS IN NEW AND EXISTING U of S Sour Cherries, ADF report March 2011

Cold Hardy Fruit Trees and Products for Sale


*** Orders received after June 1 will be shipped in late October or early spring the following year. See Shipping dates ***

Small sized cherry plants are normally shipped in 2.5" pots, with a single stem that will branch out in the first season after planting. Larger sized cherries are usually bare root and shipped in early spring or late fall. All our fruiting bushes are on their own root stock and we recommend planting the cherries so their root crown is just below the soil line.
Please check our wholesale pricing for quantities greater than 50 plants.

Romeo Cherry

* Prunus cerasus x P. fruticosa
* Dark red, very similar to Carmine Jewel, but a bit later harvesting (mid to late July in zone 3)
* Very good for fresh eating and processing (larger and sweeter than Carmine Jewel)
* One of the best for juice
* Fruit weighs about 4 gram
* 6.5-12' height, 7+' width
* Low suckering
* Self-pollinating
* Usually produces a few berries in 3 years, rapidly increasing to 25+ lbs at 5 years
* Zones 2-8
* More info

8-12" tall sturdy 2 year old

Note that larger Romeo are in short supply this year.
1-2' tall sturdy bare root
2-3' tall

Juliet Cherry


Juliet bare roots on
bundle of 5 bushes 3-4' tall

* Prunus cerasus x P. fruticosa
* Dark red
* Excellent for fresh eating and processing
* Fruit weighs about 5 gram, up to 20 Brix
* Blooms 3 days earlier than other U of S Romance cherries
* Typically grows faster/taller than Romeo
* 7-12' height, 7+' width
* Low suckering
* Self-pollinating
* Usually produces a few berries in 3 years, rapidly increasing to 25+ lbs at 5 years
* Zones 2-8
* More info

Sturdy bare root bushes, Juliet is one of the fastest growing tart cherries.
1-2' tall
Pruned back to 2-3' tall - guarantees you get the largest/sturdiest plants available.

Carmine Jewel Cherry


Tartest Pie Cherries


* Prunus cerasus x P. fruticosa
* Dark purple skin and flesh, small pits
* Good for fresh eating and processing, best pie cherry
* Some people prefer the extra intense flavor and tartness over the milder, sweeter varieties for fresh eating
* Fruit weighs about 4 gram, 15-17 Brix
* Early harvest, ripening first in the season, mid July in zone 3
* 6.5-12' height, 7+' width
* High suckering, can sucker up to 20' away.
* Self-pollinating
* Usually produces a few berries in 3 years, rapidly increasing to 25+ lbs 5-6 at years of age
* Zones 2-8

12-16" tall, 1 year old 2.5" pot
1-2' tall 2-year-old bare root

Crimson Passion Cherry

* Prunus cerasus x P. fruticosa
* Dark red fruit, flesh firmer than other cultivars
* Excellent for fresh eating, highest sugar content but less "zing"
* Some people want more "tartness" in their tart cherries than what this variety provides.
* Fruit weighs about 6 gram, 22 Brix
* 6-9' height and 7+' width (height dependent on location/zone/weed control)
* Lowest suckering of all the dwarf sour cherries
* Self-pollinating
* Slower growing, less vigorous than the other varieties the first year, but seem to grow well once established in many locations.
* Least reliable producer of the Romance Series dwarf sour cherries
* May yield 20+ lbs yield after 6 years, but may not bear every year
* Zones 2-8
* European brown rot symptoms reported in 2016 in NE Minnesota. Brown rot is associated with cool and wet conditions around bloom time.

4"-11" tall SHIPPING spring 2018

Lutowka Rose Cherry

*Prunus cerasus austera L. 'Lutowka', a morello cherry common to Poland (wiśnia - Polish sour cherry)
* Early maturing shrub may grow to only 3-5 feet tall in the north (zone 2), but grows to 7+ feet in warmer zones
* Produces large fruit (5-7 gram) within 2-3 years after planting
* Self-pollinating
* Zones 3*-8 (*a bad winter such as in 2014 may kill the top portion of young bushes in zones 3 & 4, but branches regrow from the lower sections).

This plant was introduced from Poland in 1990 where it achieves a tree form and is the most common sour cherry grown in European orchards. It has been suggested as a good tree for bonsai (e.x. Prunis mahaleb bonsai). There is even a Ginjinha - Portuguese "sour cherry" liqueur made out of this species! See YouTube for Lutowka harvesting videos.

12-20" tall
21"-30" tall 2 year old

Cherry Cookbook


Cooking with Cherries offers a wide selection of recipes that give you many great ideas for what to do with your home-grown cherries! Compiled at the University of Saskatchewan, it was nominated for the 2012 Gourmand Cookbook Award for Canada for the category Best Fund Raising, Charity and Community Cookbook.

$20 each from us, or order from Canada.

Dwarf Sour Cherry Manual


University of Saskatchewan Dwarf Sour Cherry Manual. Most everything the University knows about growing dwarf sour cherries! Table of Contents includes: Origins, Cultivars, Biology, Propagation, Orchard Establishment, Cultural Practises, Winter Hardiness, Pests and Diseases, Organic Production, Harvest, Post-Harvest Handling, and Storage.

A Customer's Orchard

Zone 4b, Iowa - May 26, 2016 - 1 Carmine Jewel (2011), 2 Carmine Jewel (2012), 1 Crimson Passion (2014)
12' apart, 12' tall at maturity, unpruned until now
plans on pruning for better air flow through the center and for ease of picking
In 2016 Carmine Jewel planted in 2011 yielded on avg 29.7 lbs/bush, plus several lbs more on each bush and ground
Harvest doubled from 2015 to 2016 (Year 5 to Year 6)


One of the deterrants to processing large numbers of cherries may be the large number of pits! Fortunately, there are several ways to address this situation.

Chop Rite #16 available used on ebay or new at

Kathy Wiederholdt from NDSU Carrington recommends
Leifheit 37200 Cherrymat Cherrystone Remover. Here's her review, "It’s good for a home owner with just a few plants. I just feed the cherries in with one hand, blip, blip, blip as I quickly bop the handle with the other hand, boinka, boinka, boinka. It’s pretty fast. Kind of addicting. Kind of juicy. I do it outside."

The Honeyberry Farm has tried two $15 single cherry pitters - the Norpro Deluxe screws securely to the table but the collection unit for the pits is small. The Advantage counter top version has a nice large collection unit for the pits.

For those with more time than money, there's always the DIY approaches: Fingers, Straw, Syringe, or paper clip method! And what to do with the pits? Try a cherry pit hot pack!

Higher volume small scale pitters
Elaine from Bouviers Berry Basket recommends the TSM Products cherry stoner viewable on youtube. Also at this link. She says, "They sell a jr. size and a sr. size that pits 10 cherries at a time. I bought the sr. size and it works quite well on Juliette cherries (U of S Romance series cherry whose size is inbetween Carmine Jewel and Crimson Passion) especially if 2 people are working at it. One person can keep filling the cherry trays with cherries while the other person operates the handle. It's a messy job so doing it outdoors works well. I would be quite confident that it would work fine for the Carmine Jewel as well unless you were to forget to put in the rubber trays that the cherries fall into before pitting. The holes in the rubber trays are just small enough that the pits can be pushed through by the plungers. Nanking cherries would not work. You do have to make sure that only one cherry for each spot falls into position at a time though because it seems that the second cherry gets pushed aside and doesn't get pitted. I also would tell people to be very careful with their fingers and to especially not let kids near it because the plungers are very sharp. While it does miss some pits I would remind people that you often find pits in canned cherry pie filling as well, so to always remind their friends and family to chew carefully in case of pits." We did try a single cherry pitter that looked like a wire framed scissors. It was supposed to punch the pit out but it was designed for a larger cherry and did not work well with the U of S varieties.
Other options being investigated:

Commercial Harvester
Dunkley Cherry Pitter Jr. in MB but some orchards prefer the larger Dunkley models.

NAFEX 2012 086 Brown Rot.jpg

Brown rot While Canadian-bred dwarf sour cherries have been quite problem free over the past decade, the extremely wet springs of 2011 and 2012 in Saskatchewan revealed problems with brown rot/cherry blossom blight.


Black cherry aphid sighted in northern Minnesota.


Pear slug sawfly larva. "Literature says to wash them off with a strong jet of water – but not possible in an orchard. Can get them on aronia in late July along with lacebugs. Pear slugs eat the tops of the leaves and lacebugs eat the bottoms. Use spinosad to control both. They are not a caterpillar, so pyrethrins won’t kill them. One good coating spay in late July. But only if the damage seems like it’s going to get out of control." (from conversation with Northern Hardy Fruit Evaluation Project coordinator)

Pocket gophers may eat the roots before you notice their tunnel and mounds. Starting around the edges, leaves turn yellow and fall off. We trap to control them.

Sour Cherry Yellows

Black Knot

Black Stem Borer

Plumb Curculio

Cherry Leaf Spot For Michigan growers, see MSU Enviroweather forecast model for Cherry Leaf Spot. See more on cherry leaf spot.
One Iowa grow has reported success with Bayer's Luna Sensation fungicide but is looking for an organic alternative.

Freezing - see MSU's Picture Table of Fruit Freeze Damage Thresholds and Tree Fruit Critical Temperatures

Bacterial Canker Managing bacterial canker (MSU)

Cytospora canker

Powdery Mildew

Cherry Fruit Fly MSU general info. Also UMN info Organic treatment options: GF-120 has the same active ingredient (spinosad) as Entrust, is cheaper, and is easy to apply with a backpack sprayer. Neem is ineffective against Cherry Fruit Fly as is Pyganic. European Cherry Fruit Fly was introduced to North America in 2015.

Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) MSU general info and MSU cherry SWD info which reports some success with organic certified products with active ingredient spinosad. Eggs laid in fruit have very high mortality if kept at 35 degrees for 3 days. Berry Protection Solutions sells exclusion netting with fine enough mesh to keep out the flies. Keeps out the birds and protects against hail damage as well. Also swd info

Cherry Links

NPR May 27, 2013
Growing Fruit Forum - Romance Series Cherries
How pruning affects cold hardiness of fruit trees (Fruit Grower News)
West Virginia University Tree Fruit and Education Center



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