In 2009, we bought two sour cherry trees from Stark Bros.: a semi-dwarf Montmorency pie cherry (next to the porch on the north side of the house) and a dwarf Surecrop pie cherry (between the grapes and the apple tree).
For their first few years we removed the blossoms so the tree could use all its energy to grow.
Even though we didn't get any cherries those years, though, they were (and remain) beautiful ornamental trees and a nice source of nectar for bees in the spring.
Our first harvest year for SureCrop
This dwarf version of the SureCrop is much easier to harvest than the semi-dwarf Montmorency. In this photo, we had wrapped fine-gauge bird netting around the bottom half of the tree since it was too hard to enclose the entire tree.
(True to form, we've smushed more plants into spaces probably smaller than recommended. This tree is between the grape arbor, the apple tree, and the fence.)
Surprisingly, though, we've found that the birds aren't taking many of them. They must prefer the serviceberries that are also available in the yard at the moment.
So we removed the netting, and we're even confident we can wait for them to be more fully ripe—a blacker shade of red—before picking them. Initially, we had picked them when they were just about ripe, thinking we were rescuing them from the birds.
So far, in this first year of harvest (2013, the fourth year since we planted them), we're very pleased with the production from this small tree.
The semi-dwarf Montmorency
We've found there's a big difference between "dwarf" and "semi-dwarf." The semi-dwarf is indeed shorter than a full-size tree, but it still requires a medium-sized step ladder to reach all the fruit. It's not a big problem, but something to consider.
Of course, not all varieties are available in dwarf form; this was the smallest Montmorency available, and we're still glad we chose this as one of our two varieties since the cherries are bigger than the Surecrop cherries. (This is because they're different varieties, not because of the difference in tree size.)
As with the Surecrop cherry tree, we haven't found a lot of bird damage, so we've been waiting a bit longer to harvest them. The birds get a few, but on balance, waiting for more fully-ripe fruit is a good tradeoff.
|14||0||There were too few to bother picking|
|13||16||Great first harvest for these young trees!|