Pruning A Cherry Tree

Question:

I'd like to know if and how to prune my Stella Cherry tree?  I find information on Bing Cherries and other varieties but nothing on Stella.    

Answer:

  • Cherry trees regardless of the variety are pruned annually.
  • With a new or young two to three-year-old tree, establishing the scaffolding and secondary branches are the primary purpose of pruning. These limbs are the foundation on which the rest of the canopy develops and remain for the balance of the tree’s life. Once established, they’re pruned minimally to shape and control the size of the tree along with keeping the yield constant.
    • Early on the biggest decision is to choose the location of the lowest scaffolding branches. The lower to the ground these branches are located the easier it is to pick the fruit and prune the tree but walking under the canopy will be limited. A misconception with all types of trees is that the distance or space between the ground and the lowest limb changes as the tree matures. These limbs will never get any higher just bigger so it's important to establish them at the right point from the beginning. With young trees, you can change your mind but once they mature it's too late.
  •  Cherry trees produce long, whip-like branches. This growth should be trimmed back and thinned out. If they’re too close together, you should be able to slip a minimum of three to four fingers between branches to for adequate spacing. With a dense and thick canopy, the center of the tree gets insufficient light, which in turns affects the cherry crop.
  • Overall, you would remove about ten percent of the growth annually. It's helpful to distinguish between vegetative buds and fruit spurs. The vegetative buds are the single buds located on the previous year's growth or wood. The new wood is a light tan color while the mature growth is a dark brown. Fruiting spurs are located on the old wood and found in of clusters three or more. The fruiting spurs are visible right now
  • Semi-dwarf fruit trees are the most common type of tree sold today; however, it’s important to ask how dwarf is dwarf. Unfortunately, the name, semi-dwarf, is misleading, as they’re not short, compact trees.
    • The typical semi-dwarf tree grows fifteen to eighteen feet which is much too big for many yards. They’re smaller growing than a standard fruit tree; hence, the dwarf tag.
      • Semi-dwarf trees can keep shorter by pruning. Dwarf and Ultra Dwarf varieties are naturally shorter tree as they use a different type of rootstock that limits the growth.
      • Regardless of the height of the tree,  the size of the fruit remains the same tf is to ask if the variety is self-fertile; otherwise,  you’ll need to purchase two different cherries to cross-pollinate. Stella Cherry is a self-pollinating variety, so you’re okay.

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