How do I stop my cherry tree from producing cherries?

Discussion in 'Fruit and Nut Trees' started by Surreygirl, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. Surreygirl

    Surreygirl Member

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    I know, sounds bad, but we are on a city lot in Surrey, and the tree makes such a mess. It's not possible to get up high enough to pick all the fruit safely. It's about 20 years old and I've had it pruned every few years, but it's too much to get all the fruit. I think it's producing Bing cherries...they are delicious, but we just built a new deck and it's getting ruined. It also attracts raccoons, wasps, and crows who fight in the tree. For next year, I'd love the tree without the fruit. Is there a permanent way to make it a flowering cherry only?

    Thanks,

    Mel
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Cut it down and dig out or grind up the stump.
     
  3. growing4it

    growing4it Active Member 10 Years

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    Instead of Ron B's suggestion to cut the tree down, how about offering the fruit to the local food bank. Some cities have community groups that will pick fruit from home gardens and donate the fresh produce to the food bank.

    Something that may work is pruning the tree to cut off flowers. Fruit comes from flowers.....
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Pruning enough to eliminate flowering would eliminate virtually all beauty and other uses like providing shade. Probably not vigorous enough to persist as a pollard - cherry trees are not wild about heavy pruning, likely to decline and die if heavily lopped repeatedly. If nothing else the recurring wounding would probably admit pests or pathogens.
     
  5. BitterSweet

    BitterSweet Member

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    Ron- there's no need to be so negative, nobody wants such bitterness in response to their questions.

    My suggestion would be in line with Surrey- Offer the extra fruit to a food bank, and as far as the fruit that's out of reach goes, perhaps you can hammer it with a strong water spray as it begins to flower? That would possibly knock the petals off and make them less attractive to pollinators??? I'm no expert, and feel free to call me riddiculous but that's what I'd do. You can also cover your new deck in a tarp when the plant fruits, to catch the cherries. Also, you could try and over-fertilize your tree, to where it produces major foliage growth but little to no fruit. I hear that happens with tomatoes. =) Best of luck to you, I'd hate to think you'd have to be rid of your tree!
     
  6. N Dendy

    N Dendy Member

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    If you can shade the tree, even for a short period, it is possible to prevent flowering. But you will miss the most beautiful part. It would be nice to have a pic, but I disagree with some of the comments about prunning; prune hard, but only make one or two major cuts, a never too many cuts in one area. Your tree is too tall, so cut it in half. This will be a lot easier if you have a clear leader, if you dont then make one. Perhaps lower the tree and remove one or two large lower branches, and some heading cuts to emphasize the leader. You will get lots of vigor from prunning, you could even take one decent sized low branch, cut off the rest of the tree and in a few years have a managable tree that looks nice. But paint the cuts in Surrey, or you will probably get canker.
     
  7. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Seriously? Thats poor pruning advice, odds are the best solution for the long term is to remove the tree and replant with something that wont become a nuisance based on the parameters of the homeowner.
     
  8. N Dendy

    N Dendy Member

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    If you remove limbs entirely, no heading just removal, it might take 2-4 years to bring a cherry tree back under control. Eliminate co-dominance to thicken up a lower new leader. Remove more branches for light to initiate buds back in the middle and bottom of the tree. If you can cut to budded wood that will absorb some of the vigor also so you dont end up with too much bullish wood. Just dont take too much at once, and remove, dont head.
    If you plant a mazzard rootstock and prune it propery you will have a nice tree in about 5 years. If you plant a geizla rootsock and dont look after it, it will fall over, or crop itself to death in 2-3 years. I think it really depends on the tree, if the trunk is rotten, or if it has cytospera (not gumming, but entirely dead areas) remove it. Planting a new tree in Surrey is also a fight against canker. Canker will easily kill young trees, while a more established tree can have canker with little or no negative effects.

    "Seriously. Thats poor pruning advice..."

    This pruning advice is first rate. But if you dont want cherries, I agree, plant something else.
     
  9. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Cutting a tree in half is first rate pruning advice? Please,show me the research on that.
     
  10. dt-van

    dt-van Active Member 10 Years

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    You could prune some of the higher branches to make it easier to harvest more of the fruit, but in our climate the tree will quickly regain the lost height, and you will still have many of the problems you mentioned. In my opinion pruning a tree heavily in order to completely change it's nature is rather like buying a Great Dane and cutting off it's legs because you wanted a small dog. It would be better (and kinder) to remove the tree and replace it with a non fruiting one. Considering the recent problems with cherry blight you may want to consider getting another type of flowering tree instead, or just choose a tree with beautiful foliage and a nice winter shape like katsura or ? The good news is that our long growing season also means you won't have to wait years for a replacement tree attain a good size.
     
  11. northerngrapes

    northerngrapes Active Member

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    Take a trip to the Okanagan and spend some time with commercial cherry growers.
    The advice given by N Dendy is good advice.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011
  12. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I checked the link you sent, didn't see any pruning advice listed. Pruning for commercial fruit production can be much different than that accepted for ornamental landscape situations.

    For other reference here are a couple of links.

    http://treesaregood.com/treecare/pruning_young.aspx

    http://treesaregood.com/treecare/pruning_mature.aspx

    In the long run the original question wasn't how to make the tree smaller it was how to make the tree stop producing fruit. I would still suggest that if the owner doesnt want a fruiting tree, the best long term solution is to remove it and replant with something else.
     
  13. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    What you also see in orchard country is failed trees dug out and piled up to be burned. Commercial practice does not always automatically = only smart moves being made. Taking developed trees and whacking them back like one might a small, very new specimen (even the merits of this can be debatable) is liable to produce significant difficulties for the tree.
     
  14. northerngrapes

    northerngrapes Active Member

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    Stop the tree from producing blossoms and prune it back. or remove it all together.
    Those are options. Agree that orchard practices are entirely different than "ornammental practices. You still have to prune properly. Once I went to a workshop on cherry production. 25 people all expert all had different ideas on how to prune. This reminds of this

    The ISA websites are good. Basic principles of pruning.

    Fruit tree pruning is entirely different than ornamentals. Have a look at these videos from Michigan State.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA-p4aHmOvU

    You can learn from this.

    I teach courses on fruit growing.
     
  15. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    I keep hearing how orchard pruning is different yet when it gets down to talking about how much brutality the specimen will tolerate there is no difference. Radically topped older apple trees still get sun burned and as a result rotted out by anthracnose whether they are designated as fruit production specimens or landscape ornaments.

    The only difference I suppose might occur in a fruit production situation would be a keen hobbyist or orchardist coming in with diligent chemical treatments to keep the anthracnose at bay afterward. But the fact would still be that this became necessary because the tree was given a major blow, resulting in damage to the bark of the remaining original structure.
     
  16. northerngrapes

    northerngrapes Active Member

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    "The only difference I suppose might occur in a fruit production situation would be a keen hobbyist or orchardist coming in with diligent chemical treatments to keep the anthracnose at bay afterward. But the fact would still be that this became necessary because the tree was given a major blow, resulting in damage to the bark of the remaining original structure. "

    Good point. I think what it comes down to is that you have to assess each specimen
    differently and determine the course of action. Overgrown trees can be retrained
    and there are different approaches. Experience with dealing this for over 30 years
    is helpful. Never ceases to amaze how plants will respond to cultural practices. What works in theory and what works in the " field" are a whole different thing. It's a learning curve.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011
  17. Cal MI

    Cal MI Member

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    Orchardists in Michigan regularly cut the tops from (shorten) fruit trees so they can more easily reach the fruit in succeeding years. But I notice that new orchards are always dwarf varieties.
     

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