Growing Sour or Cooking Cherries

Sour or cooking cherries are usually grown for making jam or cherry brandy. They will grow well when cultivated as fan-shaped trees on a north wall, especially the variety Morello.


The sour cherry is usually budded on the Mazzard stock known as Mailing F.12/1. The yellow Morello does well grown on its own roots.


Buy two-year-old bush trees or three- to four-year-old fan-trained trees. Sour cherries will grow on the same type of soil as sweet cherries but on the whole are less particular, although they are best planted on cultivated soil rather than in grass.

English: Sour Cherry - English Morello cultiva...

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Plant in November while the soil is still warm. Bush trees should be put in 18 ft. square and fan-trained trees 15 ft. apart against a north wall or fence.


It is necessary to feed cooking cherries more than sweet cherries because the fruit is borne on the newest wood. Put a nest of straw 4 ft. wide all round each tree. Sprinkle fish fertilizer over the straw at the rate of 3 oz. per sq. yd. in February.

If it is not possible to mulch the soil in this way, water the trees thoroughly in dry summers, starting about the second week in June and continuing until picking time. It may be necessary to give as much as ten gallons of water to each tree at each watering.


Because the fruit is borne on long lengths of thin wood produced the previous season, it is important to cut out the old wood and retain the new.

For the first three or four years’, cut back the leaders on bush trees by about half to form good strong branches. Each year after this period, cut back a quarter of the older wood as the buds swell in spring.

In addition, each February, prune back young growths that are tending to fill up the centre of the bushes to a point just above what is called a single bud, because double buds are fruit buds and single are wood buds.

In the case of Morello cherry bushes that have been neglected for a number of years, saw back the branches by about half, then clean up the saw cuts and paint them with a thick white lead paint. This will cause the production of much young wood, which can be cut the following year.

Very vigorous Morello cherries should be pruned exactly as peach trees. In the case of fan-trained trees, after the first four years it is necessary to cut away a good deal of the older wood and to tie in the new.


Provided their skins do not split, sour or cooking cherries can be left on the trees until they are fully ripe.

As the stalks are firmly attached to the branches, cut the cherries off with a pair of scissors, as picking in the normal way may tear the bark and increase the risk of brown rot infection.


Flemish Red, end of July. Fairly strong grower producing bright red, sharp fruit. Self-fertile.

Kentish Red, mid-July. Juicy, deep red, acid fruit. Pollinated by Flemish Red.

Late Duke, end of August. Sub-acid, reddish-purple. Pollinated by Morello.

Morello, August to early September. Roundish, deep red to black fruits. Best variety for cooking. Good for north walls. Self-fertile.

Turk, early August. Strong grower, producing shiny black, acid fruit. Best late variety. Excellent for canning. Pollinated by Morello.

Wye Morello, August to early September. Excellent for cherry brandy. Grows on its own roots. Self-fertile.

09. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Berries, Fruit & Veg, Fruit Trees | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Growing Sour or Cooking Cherries


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