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Cherry Orchard Establishment

When planning an orchard, it is essential that growers carefully evaluate local conditions in their orchards, including soil type and climate. Rootstocks and scions should be selected based on desired tree vigor, soil type, and the likelihood of soil-borne pest and disease problems. (Glozer 2010; Lang 2001).  Cherry trees can productively bear fruit for up to 30 years (Long and Kaiser 2010), with the heaviest fruit bearing years occurring between the ages of 10 and 25 (Bethell 1988).

Orchards planted with standard rootstocks can include up to 120 to 220 trees per acre (Long and Kaiser 2010), at a spacing of 10 to 20 feet, depending on the cultivar, rootstock, and tree training system (Ingels and Arceo 2012). Since most commercial sweet cherry cultivars are self-incompatible, one pollinizer tree should be planted for every 8 to 11 fruit producing trees (Bethell 1988). Pollenizers should be planted in a regular pattern throughout the orchard, or in solid rows. In general, individual trees of the main variety should be no farther than one to two trees away from a pollinizer tree, to ensure good transfer of pollen by honeybees (Polito 2003).