Mystery of the Cherries

Asked August 6, 2018, 7:48 PM EDT


I bought a house with 3 trees which I believe are tart cherries, but I've never had fruit trees before so I'm just guessing. They were in sad shape and I've been trying to improve them. I did a bit of pruning in the winter and sprayed them with effective microbes and neem oil, in addition, to adding sulfur, greensand and compost to the ground around the trees. My soil is alkaline with a pH of 8.0 and little NPK. So far, the trees look much better than last year; I've attached pictures below. Last August, the first tree's leaves had shriveled up and there was no fruit on it. The other 2 trees had small fruit and discolored leaves. The trees are definitely looking better and there is less insect damage but the fruit is hard and doesn't seem to ripen. They taste like very tart cherries and when i cut them open, they are hard all the way through but have red juice. I have multiple questions for you:
1. Are these tart cherry trees?
2. Will the fruit become more ripe?
3. I plan on repeating soil testing this year to see how far I have come in replacing nutrient deficiencies but based on the appearance, is there a nutrient deficiency that stands out to you that I should remedy sooner.
4. I have small pinpoint disfiguration and plum curculio scars on the fruit but the fruit does not seem to be infested with maggots. I have also not had much fruit drop on the cherry trees. Did the insects only cause cosmetic damage or should I anticipate worms to start crawling out of the fruit in the future?
5. What can I do to get larger fruit in the future?

Thank you in advance for the knowledge.

Lapeer County Michigan

1 Response

Looks like what you have is a crab apple tree. This can be confusing because the leaves of the crab apple resemble those of a tart cherry. There will be multiple seeds in the crabapple and only one in a tart cherry. Some crab apple varieties are usable in jelly, but many have only small fruit with very little flesh and are of very little value. Plum curculio will damage the fruit, but generally do not successfully infest the fruit with larvae because the fruit is so hard. The pinpoint symptom is probably scab, a fungal disease. Looks like you may have some leaf burning, probably from the neem oil treatment, which is probably not needed because the fruit is not worth protecting.