Washington state is a leading producer of one of our favorite fruits, the humble cherry. The economic importance of cherries has led to the constant development of cultivars with more desirable traits like those found in a Benton cherry tree. The fruit is similar to Bing but has several attributes that make it more marketable and grower-friendly. Learn how to grow Benton cherries and enjoy their sweet, complex flavor and ease of care.
Benton Cherry Info
If you are a cherry fanatic, Benton cherries may be the variety for you to grow. The large, bright red fruits ripen a bit earlier than Bing cherries and have several disease resistances that enhance the tree’s health. According to Benton cherry info, the variety was developed at the Washington State University Prosser Research Center.
The Benton cherry tree was bred during sweet cherry trials in Washington state. It is a cross between ‘Stella’ and ‘Beaulieu.’ Stella brought its sweet flavor and self-fertility to the new variety, while Beaulieu lent to its early maturity.
The tree itself is a large plant with upright spreading branches. Leaves are characteristic lance-shaped with slightly notched edges. The fruit’s skin is deep red and the flesh is pinkish red and has a semi-freestone pit. The fruit ripens mid-season but usually a couple of days before Bing.
How to Grow Benton Cherries
United States Department of Agriculture zones 5 to 8 are suitable for growing Benton cherries. Cherry trees prefer a full sun location in loose, loamy soil. Soil should drain well and have a pH of 6.0-7.0.
The tree can grow up to 14 feet tall (4 m.) with a similar spread. Although Benton cherry is self-pollinating, the presence of pollinating partners nearby can increase the crop.
Dig your hole twice as deep and wide as the root mass. Soak bare-root trees for several hours before planting. Spread the roots out and backfill, packing soil around roots. Water in with at least a gallon (4 L.) of water.
Benton Cherry Care
This is a really stoic cherry tree. Not only does it have resistance to rain cracking, but the slightly later flowering period, as compared to Bing, reduces the chances of frost damage.
Water cherry trees deeply but infrequently. Cherries are light feeders and need a low nitrogen fertilizer once per year in spring after the tree is bearing fruit.
Prune the cherry tree annually in early spring to stimulate growth and spur a strong but open canopy.
Watch for insects and combat them instantly. Use organic mulch around the root zone of the tree to reduce weeds and conserve moisture.
Harvest fruits when they are glossy, firm, and bright red. Once established, Benton cherry care is very common sense and the efforts will reap the benefits of sweet, succulent fruit.