Sunday, June 10, 2012

Minnie Royal and Royal Lee... the Story of our Cherry Trees!

There's never been any kind of grand plan as far as our garden goes. Instead, it has grown bed by bed, tree by tree and year by year. When we find a method that works, we simply do more of the same.
 Sometimes our garden plans happen unexpectedly, like the time that I picked up a left over Minnie Royal cherry tree at the Valley Permaculture Alliance's  yearly fruit tree day. 
It was four years ago that the new cherry tree varieties were available for the first time in the Phoenix area. This was big news considering cherry trees only grow in cold climates with an adequate amount of chill hours. The Minnie Royal and its companion pollinator, the Royal Lee, are considered  low chill cherry trees     suitable to grow in USDA's plant hardiness zones 7 to 10a. The chill hours required for the Minnie Royal are 400 to 500 hours, which should make it a perfect choice for an urban orchard in the Phoenix area!
So, here we are four years later and only two cherries richer!
Our cherry trees are about five and a half feet tall. They have been given a light yearly pruning to keep them small and manageable. Shaded in the shadow of our large cottonwood tree, they receive slightly filtered sun. They are healthy and beautiful. But, so far fruitless...
This is my shout out to fellow orchard owners! Is it just me, is anyone else having any luck with the low chill cherry trees?  

The only cherry that survived on this branch was the largest one. I am guessing that the rest were not properly pollinated and later dropped off. Maybe there were not enough chill hours, not enough water or too much water? 
In the end, there were two cherries on each tree. One for me and one for grandson! 
We watched and waited...
and waited.
Almost there.
It's time!
   The blossoms and leaves are beautiful. The dark reddish brown bark is just what you think of when you think of cherry wood. The taste, texture and brilliant red color of the fruit was excellent (our cherries were ripe to pick in April). We like what we have seen so far. The two little cherries do give us hope for things to come, and we can imagine the possibilities!
But, where is the fruit?
In urban orchards where our space is limited, it's important to choose your fruit trees wisely and utilize every bit of  production space for an abundant harvest. We've decided to give our Minnie Royal and Royal Lee another year of growth time while we do a little research.
Let us know how your low chill cherry trees are getting along, maybe we can share a cherry pie in the spring!  


SweetLand Farm said...

mmmmmmmmm I love cherries!! they look so good!!!

Unknown said...

I'm not a cherry expert but I don't think they produce well until the 4th or 5th year (maybe give them a little more time?). Also, from the photo, it looks as though you may need to prune more. Cherry trees grow on a central leader in a scaffold shape. Each limb of the scaffold should be - I believe - about 2' apart to allow light & air to infiltrate the interior of the tree. Cherry trees prefer to be pruned in warm weather...unlike most fruit trees. You know, there is a Buddhist saying that goes "the greedy one gathered all the cherries while the simple one tasted all the cherries in one". It looks as though your grandson did just that!

rosiemomma said...

I don't have any wisdom for you regarding the trees, but I feel like there's a spiritual lesson here with these trees and the two cherries. Not sure what, but I like the saying in the comment above. I hope they fare better next year!

Anonymous said...

I grew both these trees in Dan Diego. I was mocked and scoffed at till the 5th year. Then They were loaded and I was giving away cherries! I attribute a healthy diet of mulch, compost and starbucks coffee grinds to the success of the trees and I give credit to my bees who worked diligently to insure a bountiful crop!

Sweet Life Garden said...

Thank you for the last comment! It does give me hope for my cherry trees! I would love to know what variety they are. And, I will add extra mulch and coffee grounds. I have also pruned them so the sun can shine through a little easier!
Thanks everyone!

Anonymous said...

I am planting the same 2 varieties in Austin, Texas so wish me luck!
I also got very adventurous and planted a starfruit tree.I read that they are being grown now in the valley in South Texas. It didnt like the recent freeze much and lost all the leaves off the top, in spite of being carefully covered with a sheet.
I got my first 2 avocados last summerbut they didnt grow very big.

Anonymous said...

Any updates on your cherry trees this spring? I just got the same pair from Baker and have them in 30 gallon pots and they are just starting to leaf out. I am trying to figure out where to plant but have left them mobile for now.

I think your trees look good so far and with our cold winter, perhaps will flower better this year.


Tom said...

I planted a pair in 2010 in San Diego. Got a few cherries in 2012. Look like 20 or so on each tree in 2013. Maybe in another year or two I will have a big crop.