from Cyclopedia of American Horticulture, 1902
The first farm I rented in Oregon (back in 1970) had an enormous Bing Cherry tree of indeterminate age. That magnificent beast produced an astounding quantity of large sweet black cherries. I miss being able to grow such orchard fruit here in the mountains but sure am glad for the time I shared with old “Bing”. LRM
Cultivated tree Cherries have probably sprung from two European species, Prunus Avium, Linn., and Prunus Cerasus, Linn. The domesticated forms of Prunus Avium are characterized by a tall, erect growth (Fig. 426); reddish brown glossy bark, which separates in rings; flowers generally in clusters on lateral spurs, appearing with the limp, gradually taper-pointed leaves; fruit red, yellow, or black, generally sweet, spherical, heart-shaped, or pointed; flesh soft or firm. Sour Cherries are low-headed and spreading (Fig. 427); flowers in clusters from lateral buds, appearing before the hard, stiff, rather abruptly pointed light or grayish green leaves. The following is the latest classification (Bailey, Bull. 98, Cornwell Exp. Sta.):
Prunus Avium has four representatives in the United States:
I. The Mazzards, or inferior seedlings; fruit of various shapes and colors; common along roadsides. In the middle Atlantic states, the wild Mazzard trees ofton attain great age and size, particularly in the Delaware – Chesapeake peninsula (Fig. 428).
II. The Hearts, or heart-shaped, soft, sweet Cherries, light or dark, represented by Black Tartarian and Governor Wood.
III. The Bigarreaus, or heart-shaped, firm-fleshed, sweet Cherries. like Napoleon and Windsor.
IV. The Dukes; light-colored, somewhat acid flesh, such as May Duke and Reine Hortense.
From Prunus Cerasus two classes have sprung:
I. The Amarelles, or light-colored sour Cherries, with colorless juice, represented by Early Richmond and Montmorency.
II. The Morellos, or dark-colored sour Cherries, with dark colored juice, like the English Morello and Louis Philippe.
The following species also have horticultural value: Prunus Mahaleb, an Old World type, hardier and smaller, on which other Cherries are largely worked; Prunus Pennsylvanica, the native wild red, pin, or bird Cherrie, whose hardiness may adapt it as a stock for the Plains states; Prunus besseyi and Prunus pumila, the native sand or dwarf Cherries, the former represented by the Improved Dwarf Rocky Mountain Cherry.
The Cherry is not cultivated as a leading industry east of the Rocky mountains, except in western New York, where the sour varieties are grown for canning. The sweet Cherry is confined mostly to door-yard and fence-corner plantings. Sour kinds are found in orchard blocks in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, and Nebraska. Sweet Cherry culture, however, is adapted to the states between the 39th and 44th degrees of latitude and the 68th and 86th degrees of longitude, and to contiguous areas having similar climatic conditions. Spontaneous forms of it attain great size on the Chesapeake peninsula (Fig. 428). The sour Cherry may have grown with profit between the 35th and 45th degrees of latitude and the 68th and 100th degrees of longitude.
The Mazzard is the best stock for both sweet and sour Cherries in the east. The Mahaleb is more widely used for the sour kinds, however, as it is easier to bud, and it is free from leaf blights in the nursery. The Mazzard forms a better root system, stronger union, a longer lived tree, and is sufficiently hardy. For the Plains states the hardier Mahaleb stocks should be used.
The Cherry likes an elevated, naturally light, dry, loamy, retentive soil. The sour kinds need more moisture, and will thrive in heavier land. A soil not naturally dry may be corrected by underdraining, and on light dry knolls, the moisture capacity may be increased by green manures and surface tillage.
The sweet Cherries should be set 28 feet to 30 feet apart each way ; the sour kinds from 16 feet to 18 feet. The trees are generally set at two years from the bud
The sweet kinds are started with 3 to 5 main arms, with no center leader, about 3 ½ feet high, and the branches are pruned to side buds for a few years to induce a spreading, rather than a spire-like form. The top of a sour Cherry is made like that of a peach tree.
Plow the Cherry orchard lightly in the early spring and cultivate it every ten days, or after every rain, till the middle of June or the first of July. Seed at the last cultivation with a winter cover-crop. Stimulate the trees leguminous cover crops when needed, but the sweet Cherry is a gross feeder and a rapid grower, and undue stimulation must be avoided. Keep the orchard in sod and pasture it with sheep, along the southern and western limits of profitable sweet Cherry culture, and withhold nitrogenous manures.
Nitrogen, potash, and phosphoric acid are the three essential fertilizers. Nitrogen may be supplied in leguminous crops; potash as muriate, at 150 lbs. to 300lbs. ;and phosphoric acid in dissolved rock, at 300 lbs. to 500lbs. per acre.
Cherries should be picked by the stems into small baskets a few days before ripe. Sort out all the stemless, small and imperfect fruits. Face the perfect Cherries in small, attractive boxes or baskets, and pack these in small cases or crates. The choicer the fruit, the more strikingly it should be displayed. Guard against breaking the fruit spurs in picking the sweet Cherries. Fruit for canning is less laboriously packed, but may be as carefully picked.
The profits depend on the varieties and markets, but largely on the personality of the grower, and on his skill as a salesman. The range of profit for the sour Cherry is from $30 to $100 per acre and from $50 to $300 or more for the sweet.
The varieties adapt themselves to a wide range of territory. An imperative need, however, is the development of varieties with striking features for local adaptation. In the prairie states and the extreme north, the hardier Amarelles and Morellos comprise the profitable kinds. Formally the dark-colored, more acid Morellos were most sought after; now the milder Amarelles are demanded by both canners and consumers. In the following lists, the varieties are named more for the purpose of illustrating the different types than for recommending specific varieties.
Amongst Amarellos, the Early Richmond and Montmorency are the leading types.
Early Richmond (Fig. 429). – Size medium; pit large; light red; poor qualit ; vigorous growth. Ripens June 20th in New York
Montmorency.- Large, broad, flattened; pit medium; light red; flesh nearly colorless; juice moderately sour; vigorous growth; generally productive. Two weeks after Early Richmond. Most valuable Amarelle for the east.
Among the Morellos, Ostheim, Louis Philippe, and English Morello are important types.
Ostheim (Fig. 430). – Dark red; roundish; flesh dark, tender; juice mild, dark; productive; hardy; growth slender; A week after Early Richmond, smaller. too early for the east.
Louis Philippe. – Size of Montmorency, and ripens with it; round; acid; skin and flesh dark. Rather shy bearer in the east, but valuable in the west.
English Morello. – Two weeks later than Montmorency ; more open, drooping habit; fruit medium, roundish; redblack; very sour, slightly astringent; flesh and juice dark, purpilish crimson.
Among the sweet Cherries, the firm-fleshed red or black Bigarreaus are the most profitable. The light Bigarreaus and Hearts are more susceptible to fruit rot, and sell less readily. Representative types of Heart and light Bigarreaus Cherries are the following:
Black Tartarian – The most valuable Heart Cherry. Productive; vigorous, hardy, early; large; dark red or black; flesh dark purplish; very juicy, sweet.
Napoleon (Fig. 431). – One of the best light Bigarreaus. Fruit large; flesh hard; brittle, colorless; light lemon yellow, with reddish cheek; heavy bearer; rots if not picked before ripe; splits in wet weather. A week before Black Tartarian.
From the dark Bigarreaus the following are among the best types:
Roberts’s Red Heart. – Bright, dark red, with an under mottling; as large as Napoleon; flesh pinkish; juice nearly colorless, subacid; heavy, regular bearer in Hudson valley. Ripens with Napoleon.
Mezel. – Large, heart-shaped obtuse, flattened at both sides ; uneven skin, dark red to black; firm, but heart-like; juicy; very sweet; stem long and tortuous; heavy bearer locally. Ripens with Napoleon.
Windsor. – Large; roundish-oblong; firm; juicy; mottled dark red; flesh pinkish white; stem medium, set in slight, broad depression; heavy bearer, vigorous, upright. Ripens two weeks after Napoleon. Very profitable.
Dikeman. – Large, heart-shaped, obtuse, flattened on one side; black, with extremely firm, reddish flesh; subacid, reddish juice; stem medium, in a slight broad depression; vigorous. Ripens three weeks or more after Windsor. A variety of great value.
Diseases and Insects. – The brown rot (Monilia fructigena), which attacks the fruit at the ripening period, and particularly during sultry weather, can be largely avoided by picking the fruit a few days before ripe.