Prunning a street cherry tree

Asked May 27, 2016, 10:48 AM EDT

I moved into a new house this spring. There is a very large mature cherry tree in the parking strip in front of my house. There is a very sparse setting of fruit although the neighbor says that it has produced a lot of cherries in the past. I suspect that the tree needs a good shaping and prunning to be healthy and produce fruit. When should it be pruned? Internet articles do not agree about summer and dormant prunning. How do I find someone to prune the tree that really knows what they are doing?

Multnomah County Oregon pruning cherry trees horticulture fruit tree

1 Response

Cherries can be kind of tricky. The fruiting spurs are only productive for ~three years so regular pruning to promote growth and the development of new spurs is important. they also need a different variety for pollination (a few are self-fertile.) It's possible that the tree that used to pollinate was cut down. We have some great resources locally: http://www.portlandfruit.org/, http://www.homeorchardsociety.org/ and http://corefruitinstitute.com/ OSU extension has this brochure https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/ec819 Although you have a 'stone' fruit tree, I found this older article for restoring a 'pome' fruit tree and many of the concepts are the same, https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/files/project/pdf/...

If you are trying to 're-hab' the tree, it's really important to not cut more than a third of the canopy in one 12-month period. Pruning in winter promotes growth, summer pruning manages growth. I'm a big fan of the latter and I practice it on my apple tree. Hopefully over the next 3-5 years you will have a fruitful experience.