[NAFEX] RE: Sweet Cherries in Coastal Maine

Three Hills Farm organic at threehillsfarm.com
Sat Feb 14 19:03:49 EST 2004

Rodney, Ginda, et al. :

Thanks so much for the feedback and suggestions.  I was surprised to see on the foodandfarm.com site the reference to the number of cherries trees (287) recorded here in Maine.  I was even more surprised to read the blanket statement that '[all] sweet cherries aren't winter-hardy'.   Seems like a rather nebulous statement.   Winter-hardy for whom?  All 3 1/2 zones here in Maine?   Time will tell.   

Rodney, I appreciate you mentioning Balaton as well.  I've seen this tart cherry mentioned on the Adams County Nursery site, as well as by Hilltop and Cummins Nursery.  But I had no idea it's developing such a cult following.  The Cummins Nursery site describes at as follows:  "Dark-juiced introduction from Hungary.  Very high sugar, low acid.  Great for eating out of hand.  Unique in that there is no bleeding when the stem is pulled off.  Balaton is like a new kind of fruit crop.  Ideal for farm market."  I guess I've been conditioned into thinking that 'tart cherries' are all tart!   I don't actually know of anyone growing it in Maine---let alone on this island---but decided to go ahead and get a few Balaton trees as well.  I couldn't find it anywhere on Gisele 5, but was able to grab a dozen trees of it on Mahaleb.  I just need to make sure I find a home for these trees that's very well-drained.   If you should run across anyone growing Balaton on Gisela 5, would you let me know?  It would be nice to have a couple of these on the island.

Ginda, thanks for the comment about growing the trees on a north-facing slope.  The sweet cherry trees I'm buying are for the home garden, which is a pretty flat piece of land.  Balaton however will go on the farm, where the conditions are better for the Mahaleb rootstock.   Fortunately for these particular trees, the farm is all on a slightly North-facing slope.   I'll let you know how they grow.  I've got about 10 cherry pie recipes I'd like to try . . . 



* * * * *

John A Gasbarre
Three Hills Farm
Vinalhaven Island & Union, Maine
organic at threehillsfarm.com
44° 15' 45" N / 69° 19' 45" W

> Message: 5
> Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2004 07:16:48 -0700
> From: "Rodney Eveland" <reveland at collinscom.net>
> Subject: [NAFEX] Sweet Cherries in Coastal Maine
> To: <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <000301c3f305$5586ceb0$8d7ba8c0 at IBMWTKEQZ8JB5T>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> Someone always has to be the pioneer. If you have a county extension
> agent where you live or even in a nearby county, I'd bet that you can
> get free brochures that says sweet Cherries won't grow in your area
> and there's a real good chance that pretty much everyone you meet in
> your area will agree or a least say that Sweet cherries have never
> been grown there. We had a fellow get a great crop of peaches here and
> then all his trees died the following winter. Peaches usually die or
> don't produce here. I have a 14 year old Reliance peach which has
> never produced a crop. Consider yourself a pioneer. I'd pick a nice
> spot with fairly decent soil that isn't in a frost pocket and go for
> it. The two self pollinaters will probably produce best if you
> typically have cool-insectless springs during the blooming period as
> they will wind pollinate. Consider putting Emperor Francis downwind
> from the other two if you have a prevailing wind. Or perhaps right
> between them if the wind blows from one direction part of the day and
> the opposite direction during another part of the day.
> I found a site that says there are some sweet cherries grown in Maine.
> See the Question and Answer.
> http://www.foodandfarms.com/learn/faq_indiv.asp?Page=1&ID=64
> Also does anyone grow Balaton Tarts on your island? I found two
> websites that state Balaton is not as hardy as Montmorency and should
> be grown on sweet cherry sites, so if someone is growing Balaton
> perhaps you've "found" your sweet cherry sites.
> http://www.maes.msu.edu/nwmihort/balatongrow.html
> Note that in the below abstact they don't mention the rootstocks their
> trees were on and if reports on Gisela®5  are correct, it imparts more
> winter hardiness than commonly used rootstocks. You are our "pioneer
> in Maine" so be sure to tell us when you get a crop, or lose your
> trees.
> Balaton is more susceptible to winter injury than Montmorency, and in
> fact, it behaves more like some sweet cherry varieties in this regard.
> Therefore, it is critical to select sites that would be good for sweet
> cherries or peaches. Take care to develop scaffolds limbs with wide
> crotch angles which acclimate more quickly in the fall as opposed to
> narrow crotch angles. Plan to paint trunks and lower scaffolds with
> white latex paint.
> In addition, although Balaton tends to bloom a day or so later than
> Montmorency, the buds begin development earlier than Montmorency and
> therefore are more susceptible to cold temperatures in certain
> situations. For example, due to the very warm temperatures in late
> February and early March this past season, Balaton flowers were
> phenologically more advanced than Montmorency flowers when the
> freezing events occurred. As a result, Balaton and Montmorency had 56%
> versus 32% pistil/flower death, respectively, based on data from MSU's
> Clarksville Horticultural Experiment Station (CHES).
> http://www.glexpo.com/abstracts/2003abstracts/cherry.pdf
> Message: 7
> Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2004 10:32:47 -0500
> From: list at ginda.us
> Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Sweet Cherries in Coastal Maine
> To: North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>, Three
> Hills Farm <organic at threehillsfarm.com>
> Message-ID: <0A8551C3-5F03-11D8-8FA5-00039312C3A0 at ginda.us>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> There's an orchard near me that grows peaches in zone 5 (I think).  
> They plant the peach trees on the north slope of a hill, to delay 
> spring green-up and bud development.  They say it makes the trees (or 
> flowers) more resistant to late frosts.  You might want to consider 
> something like that.  (They grow apples on the other slopes.)
> Ginda
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