By Amy Grant
Nothing is more frustrating than growing a cherry tree that refuses to bear fruit. Keep reading to learn more about why cherry tree problems like this happen and what you can do for a cherry tree not fruiting.
Why Am I Getting No Fruit From My Cherry Tree?
Cherry trees will fruit when they become old enough to blossom freely. Sour cherry trees mature at around the 3 to 5 year mark and sweet cherry trees at 4 to 7 years. The overall health of the tree, which is influenced by a variety of factors, is the key to success when growing cherry trees.
Most cherry tree problems result from environmental conditions (climate and weather) of the cherry tree or orchard; cultural practices, such as watering, fertilizing and pruning; pollination and fruiting habit. These are also the most prominent causes of non-bearing cherry trees.
Environmental Factors for Cherry Tree Not Fruiting
The climate and weather affecting the tree can be a major factor in non-bearing cherry trees. Primarily, of course, plant fruiting trees that are recommended for your climate. Beyond that, frost is the foremost reason for a cherry tree not fruiting.
Temperatures below 29 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 C.) may prevent the formation of fruit and need not occur during full bloom to affect the cherry tree fruit. You may suspect frost damage, yet, may not see it as the flowers may look normal but not set fruit. If you are able to see damage, the center of the cherry tree blossoms (pistils), will look dark brown to black.
All fruiting trees need some cool temperatures to promote growth and end their dormant phase; however, sour cherry varieties are more tolerant of winter weather than their counterpart the sweet cherry tree.
Covering the cherry tree in advance of frost (row cover material or old bed sheets can be used) or overhead irrigation may aid in protecting the cherry tree. Also, plant cherry trees on the least frost prone area of your garden. Look for areas that are either close to the house or slightly elevated.
Cultural Practices to Reduce Cherry Tree Problems
A good watering and fertilizing regime is essential to maintaining a tree’s vigor and fruiting capability. Water the cherry trees deeply but at infrequent intervals.
Do not over fertilize, especially with nitrogen, as this causes foliage growth at the expense of fruit production.
Reduce competition from weeds or grass by cultivation, mulching, or weed product application.
Pruning practices are important, as excessive upright growth will delay fruit bearing and reduce the quantity.
Pollination and Fruiting Habit of Non-Bearing Cherry Trees
Lastly, although sour cherry trees do not require one, sweet cherry trees do need a pollinating source nearby. Cherry tree blossoms but no fruit is a good indication that poor pollination is occurring. To minimize the distance a bee travels to pollinate, plant your co-pollinizers no farther away than 100 feet.
When your cherry tree blossoms but no fruit appears, it may also be due to its fruiting habit. Fruiting habit may relate to simple maturity. The cherry tree, whether sweet or sour, needs several years of growth before it is mature enough to fruit. The cherry tree may also be susceptible to biennial bearing, wherein the tree flowers every other year.
Fruit trees form flowers for fruiting the previous year and if too many fruit set, they inhibit development for the following year. Again, this is usually a maturity issue as older trees and their biennial bearing tendencies fade.
The lack of fruit from your cherry trees may result from one or more of the above. The cherry tree may not bear fruit at all if even one of these conditions is not met. As a cherry tree orchardist, it is up to you to dictate and control conditions most advantageous to fruit production.