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Starting cherry trees from seed as rootstock?

 
Patrick Winters
Posts: 93
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Would this work well? If you took a bunch of cherry stones, started them all from seed, and then chose the hardiest, most successful individuals to use as rootstock for the cherry cultivar scionwood, how would it play out? What could be potential problems?

What would be good alternatives? What other Prunus species make good rootstock for cherries?
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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Expect some trees to die from disease. Others will excel. Others so so

That said cherries don't grow too far from the parent and a seedling cherry can make for good fruit.
 
Eric Thompson
Posts: 365
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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duck food preservation solar trees
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The best alternative I would suggest: Buy a bunch of cherry rootstocks (50-100) - should be under $1 each at a good wholesale place like Lawyer Nursery. Graft them and grow them out for a year - if you had 100 to start, you should get at least 60 to take the graft with 30 to try again next year and 10 just die... Sell 30 trees at $5 each and plant 30 trees - next year, plant out the 20 or so that take a re-graft.... so you have 50 trees with mostly just a time investment - not cash! And it saved you 1 year over seed to start with some known CVI rootstock -- I think it's worth $1 more than the cost of a seed to get the tree off to a reliable start in its 50+ year production...
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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timely as I just finished eating a handful of sweet cherries for breakfast. I have lots of cherry trees planted in my gardens but I do have all those pits. I have a field we have been reclaiming for a mixed food forest of about 5 acres ..i tend to put everything I want to have grow wildish in that field (pears, plums, apples, berries, etc.) but I haven't tossed any cherry pits into that field..and we just have been getting a good rain..i think i'll stick some of these pits here and there in the field and see if any of them grow..i do LOVE my sweet cherries.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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You can also buy rootstock and propagate it yourself from then on. I don't buy roosting or scionwood. My only expense was a grafting knife and some biodegradable grafting tape. Pennies per tree, the biggest thing is time. And for me I have time.
 
George Stone
Posts: 8
Location: South West Iowa
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Trying this now. Read, some where on the internet (sorry no URL), that cherry pits have to experience a good cold spell for two or three months. One suggestion was to put the seeds in the freezer and then plant them. I have done this. Just planted them in pots this week. Hopefully, something will germinate.
 
Phranque Hunter
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you should try to stay away from growing your own cherry rootstocks from cherries that you eat . they easily get diseases or a virus or something . they are better grafted onto rootstocks of other species that are not susceptible
 
George Stone
Posts: 8
Location: South West Iowa
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Does this just happen with "cherries that you eat"? (And what is "cherries that you eat"?) I have to ask, why would that happen? Does it always happen? Some of the time? Mostly? Sometimes? I can see that if the cherries are from a hybrid tree, things could get interesting, in the weak and diseased trees sense. But, good cherry trees had to start from someplace. And where are they now? I can't believe that grafting is the only way to grow a healthy cherry tree. Or is it? I really have no idea. Anyone know? Where have all the good cherries gone?...long time passing....
 
Phranque Hunter
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WELL , WHERE HAVE ALL THE AMERICAN CHESTNUT TREES GONE ? SOMETIMES THINGS GET WIPED OUT BY BUGS VIRUSES OR BACTERIA. PRUNUS AVIUM OR SWEET CHERRY HAS SOME KIND OF PROBLEM AS A ROOTSTOCK. THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED CHERRY LEAF ROLL VIRUS WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT BE THE SAME THING AFFECTING ROOTS .ARMILLARIA IS ANOTHER PROBLEM ALTOGETHER . BUT ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS GOOGLE CHERRY ROOTSTOCKS AND DO A LITTLE RESEARCH ON THE BEST CHERRY ROOTSTOCKS FOR YOUR AREA OR SOIL TYPE OR SOIL WETNESS. MAZZARD , MAHALEB ARE AMONG THE LIST.
 
George Stone
Posts: 8
Location: South West Iowa
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Dammit Phranque, you've wrecked my fantasy. I was just hoping to relive an old memory by having my own cherry tree. As a young lad, I used to make a fair amount of extra cash by picking cherries. Good fun with a bunch of friends and pretty girls.

Anyway, here's what I found out. First, I clearly don't know jack about fruit trees. Now, perhaps I now know a little more than jack.

Tell me if I'm understanding this correctly. Basically, many or even most “modern” fruit trees are the result of “making nature my bitch”. (Thank you Paul Wheaton for that phrase). They are largely not capable of propagating themselves to any useful degree. So, if we, for instance, let all commonly cultivated cherry trees go wild and never planted replacements, they would soon die out? Is this more or less correct? The whole idea that many cultivars/varieties of fruit trees need need to be grafted onto a rootstock is disappointing.

Another thing I learned is that the cherry varieties, Rainiers and Bings, that I'm trying to get to germinate, even if grafted onto a hardy enough root stock, probably won't do well on my property. Bing cherries blossom fairly early in the Spring. Here in SW Iowa (aka Monsatan Land), it's often too cold and definitely too windy for the blossoms to pollinate and then survive to produce fruit. (Note that I am ignoring permaculture solutions for this problem for now). Some sources, like the Iowa Extension Office, even recommend hardier sour cherry varieties in lieu of sweet cherry varieties.

So, now my thinking has evolved to the following:

1. I'll wait and see if those cherry pits ever germinate, just to see if it can be done and for curiosity’s sake.

2. I'll reevaluate the feasibility and wisdom of including some kind of cherry producing plant in my someday hoped for food forest. Perhaps a natural and hardy variety like Choke cherry, Mongolian cherry, or Nanking cherry might be in order.


Comments, ideas?

Thanks
 
Jeanine Gurley
pollinator
Posts: 1399
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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What if you plant a living wind barrier of some sort of fir or pine? You could create a sort of room for a number of cherries so that they could pollinate each other.

within the boundaries of the fir/pine plant some sort of nitrogen fixing plant to negate the allelopathic properties of the fir/pine trees.

In the middle of that are the cherries.

I don't know how much space you have to play with - this 'room for cherry trees' would take up a lot of space. But you would have a micro climate that is probably at least one zone warmer than where you currently live as long as the barrier trees and shrubs remain short enough to let in morning and afternoon sun.
 
John Polk
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@ George, perhaps this can revive your fantasy of having your own cherry tree:

According to the latest Zone map, even SW Iowa should now be in Zone 5:
http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/#
Click on Iowa, and it will show you a county-by-county detailed zone map.

There is a wholesale nursery in Montana that sells Bing, Rainier, and Lambert cherry trees. They rate all of them as being hardy to Zone 5. They claim that the Lambert is resistant to late spring frosts. If you have all three varieties, they will take care of the pollination of each other. Between the 3, you should get a harvest (in all but the exceptionally bad year).

They sell both trees and rootstock.

Lawyer Nursery home page
Fruit tree catalog
Availability/Price list (updated daily).

They are very reputable, and besides fruit trees, they have a large selection of broad leafs and conifers.
A good place to look for cold climate trees.
 
Jeanine Gurley
pollinator
Posts: 1399
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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After seeing John Polks post I googled the zone maps. Over 45 years ago my father had a very sweet cherry growing in his front yard in Elgin Illinois which is listed as zone 5a. I don't know what type of cherry it was but it was a red/orange and yellow cherry and it was delicious. Weisbaden W. Germany had TONS of cherries but they may have been a little warmer zone.
 
Phranque Hunter
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QUOTE

"Tell me if I'm understanding this correctly. Basically, many or even most “modern” fruit trees are the result of “making nature my bitch”. (Thank you Paul Wheaton for that phrase). They are largely not capable of propagating themselves to any useful degree. So, if we, for instance, let all commonly cultivated cherry trees go wild and never planted replacements, they would soon die out? Is this more or less correct? The whole idea that many cultivars/varieties of fruit trees need need to be grafted onto a rootstock is disappointing. "

THIS IS A YES AND NO ANSWER.

THEY PROPAGATE THEMSELVES JUST FINE UNDER THE RIGHT CONDITIONS. THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE FRUIT PRODUCED HAS A HIGH CHANCE OF BEING SLIGHTLY OR GREATLY DIFFERENT FROM THE PARENT . SO THEY WOULDN'T DIE OUT , THEY WOULD CONTINUALLY ADAPT WITH SOME HAVING BETTER DISEASE RESISTANCE, EARLIER OR LATER BLOOMING , DIFFERENT SOIL AND OR TEMPERATURE ADAPTATIONS- BUT FRUIT QUALITY WOULD BE SPECTRUM- TERRIBLE TO BLAND TO DECENT TO GREAT OR EVEN TO BETTER THAN WHAT WE HAVE NOW . EVERY CULTIVAR YOU CAN THINK OF BASICALLY WAS FROM A SEED AT ONE TIME .

"MODERN" FRUIT TREES CAN BE BETTER IN SOME WAYS - ESPECIALLY COMMERCIALLY SPEAKING. FOR COMMERCIAL CROPS , YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED CONSISTENCY. CONSISTENCY OF ROOTSTOCKS AND CULTIVARS. THIS ALLOWS YOU TO HAVE REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS FOR MANY ISSUES. YOU WANT A BUNCH OF CLONES DOING THE SAME THING AT THE SAME TIME.

BUT FOR THE HOME GARDENER , YOU WANT DIVERSITY . BIODIVERSITY OF ROOSTOCKS EVEN FOR THE SAME TREE- INARCHING. (I AM FROM RIVERSIDE CA AND THE ORIGINAL NAVEL ORANGE TREE WAS PLANTED THERE IN 1873 AND IT IS STILL ALIVE BECAUSE THEY KEEP INTRODUCING NEW ROOTSTOCKS WITH DISEASE RESISTANCE AND OTHER ATTRIBUTES) DIVERSITY = BETTER POLINATION , LONGER HARVEST TIME, RESISTANCE TO HEAT, COLD , DROUGHT, HUMIDITY, RAIN, BUGS, VIRUSES , FUNGI, BACTERIA, AND METEORS. WELL MAYBE NOT METEORS . BUT THE GENETIC POTENTIAL IS ALREADY THERE . WE JUST HAVE TO FIND IT AND RELEASE IT. OR COMBINE IT AND RELEASE IT - BY SELECTIVE BREEDING . SO YOU GET THE BEST OF TWO OR THREE WORLDS OR MORE.

THE REALLY REALLY BAD NEWS IS THAT MOST TROPICAL FRUITS CAN BE PLANTED FROM A SEED AND COME OUT PRETTY GOOD BUT TEMPERATE FRUITS DON'T NORMALLY TURN OUT THAT GREAT FROM SEED. BUT HEY , YOU MIGHT GET LUCKY. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE SO MANY VARIETIES OF APPLE . THOSE CULTIVARS JUST DO BETTER IN DIFFERENT PLACES OR HAVE A DIFFERENT FLAVOR OR RIPEN AT A DIFFERENT TIME . THAT'S WHY PEOPLE WANT TO KEEP THEM . THEY ARE THE EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMERS .

ON ANOTHER POINT , YOU MIGHT JUST WANT TO LOOK AROUND AND SEE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE GROWING SUCCESSFULLY IN OR NEAR YOUR AREA. OR CALL A LOCAL NURSERY AND ASK THEM WHAT OTHERS ARE HAVING LUCK WITH OR CONTACT YOUR LOCAL CHAPTER OF THE "north american fruit explorers" AND ADD SOME DIVERSITY OF ANOTHER KIND . TRY NEW EXOTIC SPECIES LIKE YOU SAID . MANY BUSH BERRIES CAN STAND LOTS OF COLD AND WIND. SOMETIMES PEOPLE GET SET ON ONE THING AND TOIL ENDLESSLY WHEN A GOOD EASY SUBSTITUTE IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. TRY WHAT DOES GOOD IN YOUR AREA.
 
George Stone
Posts: 8
Location: South West Iowa
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Been away for a short bit. Logged on and found lots of great responses.

Jeanine,

I like your idea. We're trying to come up with ideas for windbreaks. We live on top of what once was a glacier moraine in what is known as the Loess Hills. Winters are cold, but not horribly cold. It's the wind that causes problems. We get worried on calm days and begin to think in terms of animal sacrifice to get the breezes going again. We do have three apple trees and the winds have been very hard on them. In the five years we have had them, we have yet to get a single apple. Every spring, the winds beat the snot out of the blossoms and often we get an untimely cold snap. The poor things desperately need a wind break / sun trap. Right now wind break ideas include bamboo (believe it or not) and/or using the native Eastern Red Cedar. Both are fast growing. Plus the cedar is very resistant to 2,4-D and Round-Up which is a plus for my location (corn and soy beans immediately east and west of the property) and I can get them for free. We have about an acre, but we planted trees and shrubs, higgly-piggly without any real planning and unfortunately without any permaculture considerations. Now I have to really rethink the whole property. It'll be a lot of work but I really would like to see a little green oasis of paradise in the midst of the corn-soy monoculture.

John,

Loved the links. The new USDA plant zone chart is calling our location a 5a. Lawyer Nursery looks very cool. Already added to my favorite links.

Phranque,

Good info. I wondered if what you said would be the case. Nature has her ways and they don't fit in neat, man-defined categories so very well. It's just what it is.

I'll do some digging and asking to see what others have had success with. But, now that I think about it, I don't ever remember seeing a cherry tree around here. Still, I'll ask around. Possible idea for a niche permaculture product? Things that make you go “hmmmm”. Premium cherries at a premium price?


Thanks for all the responses. Very awesome.

 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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here is some info on sprouting sweet cherry pits from inside a thread on the NAFEX listserve:
http://www.ibiblio.org/ecolandtech/NAFEX/message-archives/old/msg00375.html

For cherry rootstock, the giesela 5 and other related rootstocks are pretty impressive at keeping the trees small enough to be managed easily. I'm more interested in sprouting the pits to see if I can find a variety that gets me a longer cherry season! I'm thinking June-October would work for me...

 
Rick Brodersen
Posts: 53
Location: Bainbridge Island,WA
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I'm fortunate enough to have a 60-70+ year old Bing Type Cherry tree on our city property, our house was the original farm house back in the 40's when this was a 20 acre orchard. When I did the research I contacted someone at the University Of WA and now due to the interest have had many people come and check it out and We have given away many of the seeds to University's and seed collectors. The tree is still producing very well for how old it is and last year we even got a bumper crop, I'm not sure when they originally started grafting but from what I have been told our's was most likely started from seed. I haven't tried to start any of the seeds myself but I will this year, the tree has inspired my interest in learning more and eventually I discovered permaculture. I have also been offered $2500 from an arborist to buy the trunk wood...
 
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