Sunday, June 6, 2021

Sour cherries in Sacramento Valley

Back in December 2017, I ordered scions of 12 sour cherry accessions from the USDA Geneva (NY) station. They arrived in early 2018. I also collected some additional cultivars from the local gardening friends. In total, 16 different cultivars were successfully grafted and planted in the ground in early 2019. 

They are:
Belle Magnifique
Bianco Rosato di Piedmonte
Csengodi Csocros
Pamjat Vavilova
Shatten Morelle

For the rootstocks, I used Mahaleb and a few Adara.

A few accessions were also grafted onto in-ground trees:

Almaz -> Adara Intersteam -> Shiro plum
Belle Magnifique -> Adara
PV1 -> Adara
Duke -> Adara Intersteam -> Shiro Plum
Sumadinka -> Royal Rainier sweet cherry

The first to fruit were the grafts made onto in-ground trees. I got a few fruits from Almaz and Duke in 2019 already. Belle Magnifique and Sumadinka started to produce in 2020.  Sumadinka seems to be the most productive, with Belle Magnifique coming in a close second. Now in 2021, Duke and Almaz produced just a few fruits, and this might be due to the short Adara interstems.  I used just ~4 inches of Adara, while I should have used a foot of it. These grafts reside on my Shiro plum, and they stopped growing.

Sumadinka on the other hand is taking over the Royal Rainier cherry, and now this graft represents most of the tree. The fruits have a very typical sour cherry flavor. Shown in the picture below.

Belle Magnifique fruits (picture below) taste sweeter, as this is a selection of a hybrid Duke cherry.
However, Belle Magnifique fruits (the right fruit in the image below) are a little smaller and lighter than Sumadinka (the left fruit in the image below).

Duke is a relatively large and “sweet” sour cherry as it is a sour-sweet hybrid.

Almaz is a light-colored cherry with transparent juice. I only had a few not fully ripe fruits, so I do not have an opinion about this accession yet.

From the newly made trees, only Sumadinka, Balaton, and Oblachinskaya made fruits in the spring of 2021. I will need a few more years to learn which cultivars perform well in my area. Sumadinka and Belle Magnifique seem to be the most promising for now.


  1. Excellent! I wonder how the length of the interstem could affect the graft.

    1. My understanding is that the short interstem does not prevent the leaking of incompatibility factors between the rootstock and the graft. I do not know what those factors are, but it was shown that various RNAs (which may or may not be involved in this) migrate between rootstock and graft.


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