When Does A Cherry Tree Bear Fruit?


If you have planted cherry trees recently, you may not have any fruit yet.  If that is the case, you may be wondering when cherry trees bear fruit, and whether you are doing something wrong.

So, when does a cherry tree bear fruit?  Cherry trees bloom in the spring and bear cherries in late May, June, or early July.  A sweet cherry tree will bear fruit 5 to 9 years after planting, while a sour cherry tree will bear fruit 4 to 6 years after planting.

Of course, the time that a cherry tree blooms and bears fruit will depend on the climate.  Also, the number of years you need to wait for fruit will depend on the type of tree you decide to plant.

In addition, there are environmental factors, such as pollination, that will determine how well a cherry tree produces, and whether it bears fruit at all.  Let’s get into more detail about when cherry trees bear fruit.

When Does A Cherry Tree Bear Fruit?

In warmer climates, like California, some cherry trees will produce fruit early and will yield a harvest in May.  Most cherry fruit will not be ready until June, however.

cherry trees in DC
After cherry blossoms appear, there is at least a month to wait for fruit to appear.

Generally, there is a 1-month wait between the time when a cherry tree drops its white or pink blossoms and the time it has fruit ready to pick and eat.   

Does A Cherry Tree Produce Fruit Every Year?

No, cherry trees do not produce fruit every year.  Young cherry trees take several years to mature enough to produce fruit.

There are two basic types of cherry trees: sweet cherries and sour cherries (also called tart or pie cherries).  Sweet cherry trees take 5 to 9 years to grow to the point where they can produce fruit.

Cherry Tree
Sour cherry trees will mature faster and produce fruit sooner than sweet cherry trees.

Sour cherry trees mature a little faster than sweet cherry trees.  Sour cherry trees take only 4 to 6 years to grow to the point where they can produce fruit.

Remember that if you plant seeds (stones) harvested from cherry trees, you may end up with a tree that will never produce fruit.  To ensure fruit production, buy established trees from a nursery.

For more information, check out my article on the difference between organic and heirloom seeds, and my article on the pros and cons of hybrid seeds.

Of course, there are many different varieties of both sweet and sour cherry trees.  The time to produce fruit will vary depending on what you choose to plant.

You can also choose to purchase cherry trees that are 1 or 2 years old from a nursery.  This will cut back on the time you need to wait for a cherry harvest.

If you want to harvest cherries even sooner, consider planting dwarf varieties of cherry trees.  Dwarf varieties are shorter and easier to harvest from.  According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, they also mature about one year sooner than standard cherry tree varieties.  For more information, check out this article on cherries from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Remember that some cherry trees are biennial bearing, meaning that they only flower every other year.  This is more common in younger trees, but it may mean that you miss a year of fruit here and there.  Of course, there could be other reasons that your cherry harvest is poor or nonexistent – more on this later.

How Much Fruit Does A Cherry Tree Produce?

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, sweet cherry trees will produce 30 to 50 quarts of cherries per year (15 to 20 quarts for dwarf varieties).

On the other hand, sour cherry trees will produce 20 to 60 quarts of cherries per year (15 to 20 quarts for dwarf varieties).

cherry tree
A mature cherry tree can produce 20 to 60 quarts of fruit per year (15 to 20 quarts per year for dwarf varieties).

Cherry trees can survive for 20 years or more, ensuring that you get many years of good harvests if you take care of them properly.

For more information, check out this article on cherry trees from the Stark Brothers website.

What Kind Of Cherry Tree Should I Plant?

It depends what kind of cherries you want, and how soon!  Here are some options for sweet, sour, and dwarf varieties.

cherry blossoms
Many of the cherry trees in Washington, DC will not produce any fruit, but they are nice to look at!

Sweet Cherry Trees

Sour (Pie) Cherry Trees

Dwarf Cherry Trees

  • Juliet Dwarf Cherry – this tree grows in Zones 2 to 7, and produces large, dark red cherries.  It only grows to a height of 5 to 10 feet, and bears up to 25 pounds of fruit at 5 years.  Hardy to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius). For more information, check out the Juliet Dwarf Cherry tree on the Gurney’s website.
  • Romeo Dwarf Cherry – this tree grows in Zones 2 to 7, and produces large, dark red cherries.  It only grows to a height of 6 to 7 feet, and bears up to 25 pounds of fruit.  Hardy to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius). For more information, check out the Romeo Dwarf Cherry tree on the Gurney’s website.

Do You Have To Have Two Cherry Trees To Produce Fruit?

In some cases, you do need at least two cherry trees to produce fruit.

You only need one sour cherry tree in order to produce fruit.  This is because a sour cherry tree is self-pollinating, or self-fruitful.

This means that the male part of a flower will release pollen onto the female part of the flower, thus pollinating itself.  However, remember that self-pollination does not mean guaranteed pollination.

cherry blossom
Sour cherry trees are self-pollinating, meaning that they do not need another cherry tree nearby to produce fruit.

You still need a bee, the wind, or some other pollinator to stimulate the flowers to release pollen.  If you don’t have many bees in your area, you can do this yourself with an electric toothbrush.  However, this might be dangerous with a tall cherry tree!

On the other hand, if you want to grow sweet cherries, you will need at least two trees, each of a different variety.  This is because most sweet cherry varieties are not self-pollinating.  They need to cross-pollinate, or receive pollen from another tree, in order to produce fruit.

There are exceptions, of course.  According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, there is a new variety of sweet cherry tree, Stella, which is also a dwarf and a self-pollinating tree.

According to Iowa State University, there are also some other varieties of sweet cherries, such as BlackGold and WhiteGold, which are self-pollinating.  For more information, check out this article on cherry tree pollination from the Iowa State University Extension.

What Other Factors Affect Fruit On Cherry Trees?

Of course, the care that you give your cherry trees is a major factor in how much fruit they produce, and whether they produce fruit at all.  Things like temperature, watering, fertilizing, and pruning can all affect the cherry harvest in June.

Temperature

Cherry trees cannot grow just anywhere.  While some are hardy to temperatures of -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius), many will not survive such cold.

On the other hand, cherry trees do need some cold during the year in order to produce fruit.  Much like blueberry bushes, cherry trees require a certain number of chilling hours during the winter.  A chilling hour is one between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit (0 and 7 degrees Celsius).

frost
Cherry trees need some chilling hours during the winter to break dormancy and produce flowers and fruit.

If a cherry tree does not get enough chilling hours in the winter, it will not break dormancy and will fail to produce flowers or fruit.  This may be frustrating if you live in a warm area, but it is nature’s way of protecting the tree.  If the tree flowers too early during a mild winter, a late spring frost can kill all of the flowers and destroy any chance of a cherry harvest that year.

Some cherry trees only require 200 chilling hours, while others need up to 1200 chilling hours.  It all depends on the variety, so be sure to check the USDA Hardiness Zone for any trees you plan on buying.  Make sure your climate gets enough chilling hours, while also staying warm enough to keep the cherry trees alive.

For more information, check out this article on chilling hours for fruit trees from the University of California.

Watering

Cherry trees may need several gallons of water during the hottest, driest parts of the summer.  However, it is possible to over water your plants, so make sure not to keep the soil constantly soggy around your cherry tree’s roots.

garden hose
Be sure to give your cherry trees enough water, but not too much. It is a balancing act, and it depends on the weather and climate.

For more information, check out my article on over watering.

Fertilizing

Before planting your cherry tree, you will want to ensure that the soil contains plenty of organic material from compost.  You may also need to fertilize to supplement some nutrients, especially if the soil quality in your yard is poor.

compost bin
Add some compost to your soil before planting cherry trees to give them organic material and nutrients.

The best way to find out for sure is to do a soil test.  For more information, check out my article on how to do a soil test.

Also, remember that it is possible to over fertilize your trees.  For more information, check out my article on over fertilizing.

Pruning

Most fruit trees require occasional pruning, and cherry trees are no exception.  Prune your cherry trees in late winter (not fall) to encourage new growth.  This new growth will lead to new branches that will eventually produce fruit.

Conclusion

By now, you have a much better idea of when to expect a cherry tree to bear fruit.  You also know the basics of how to ensure that your cherry trees produce more fruit consistently.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone else who can use the information.  If you have any questions about cherry trees, please leave a comment below.

If you have other types of fruit trees, you might want to check out my article on when a fig tree bears fruit, my article on when a pear tree bears fruit, and my article on when a peach tree bears fruit.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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