Backyard orchardists, sit up and pay attention!
Finally, after 50 years of breeding work, a series of dwarf, shrubby, sour and sweet cherries hardy to Zone 3 has been developed at University of Saskatchewan.
One example in the Romance Series is ‘Juliet’, a dark red, 0.17-ounce (5-g) cherry with thick flesh and high sugar content, a sweet cherry for fresh eating. The shrubs have few suckers and produce 22 to 33 pounds (10 to 15 kg) of fruit per shrub at maturity. Small plants purchased by mail order (veseys.com) can be expected to begin producing fruit in three years. Larger plants purchased through nurseries (in Ontario, Siloam Orchards, 905-852-9418, [email protected]) can be productive in less time.
The great advantage to the cherries in this series is that all parts of the plants are accessible from ground level. Getting protective bird netting over and around the plants heavy with fruit is easy, and if any kind of spray needs to be applied (such as sulphur, kelp or other foliar fertilizer), a simple hand sprayer will do the job. And, of course, harvesting will be quick and easy, too.
‘Juliet’ cherries are dark red at the beginning of their ripening phase. They can be picked at that colour, but the fruits will continue to sweeten if left on the bush to darken further and continue to be good for fresh eating. If allowed to remain until desiccated like raisins, their sugar will be even more concentrated; the dried cherries can be used for cereal and baking.
‘Juliet’ is one of five dwarf cherries in the series, which includes fresh-eating ‘Crimson Passion’, ‘Cupid’ and ‘Romeo’, and tart pie cherry ‘Valentine’. Now, isn’t that just enough to get you looking around the corner for spring?