Cherry trees for high water table
I have a lakeside home in Hamburg Township, and I would like to plant a dozen cherry trees, mixed tart and sweet varieties, on well-drained alkaline soil. The water table is only 2 ft. or so below the soil level. Can you recommend any rootstocks, varietals, etc. that would be most likely to thrive in this environment?
Livingston County Michigan
You may consider planting the trees on a slight ridge or mounds so that your trees have a bit more opportunity to have drier growing conditions. See the attached pictures.
The rootstock is the key more so than the variety for doing well in a site with high water table. However, if you are in a site with a high water table, it is probably a relatively flat area that is prone to cold damage. So, choosing varieties with more cold tolerance is important.
Here's a summary of sweet cherries and general properties, including yield potential.
Mazzard rootstock is preferred over mahaleb rootstock in higher water table situations. Mazzard as a rootstock can result in a rather large tree
Another option are the Gisela rootstocks. The preferred ones are Gisela 6 and 12. They come into production faster than Mazzard and are less prone to some of the disease problems that Mazzard can get that shorten the tree life.
The following is a link to a nice summary from Oregon State University
If you really want some detailed information about Gisela rootstocks here is a link to a series of videos