The Q&A Archives: What's Wrong With My Cherry Tree?

Question: Boy do I have a mess here...I purchased 2 dwarf sweet cherry trees ( I think they are white american ) and the first year after I planted them, they got cherries on them. however, the cherries turned red, but they didn't get any larger than a pea. When I tasted them, they were horribly sour. I also noticed that the trees had a sticky goo on them, and tons of ants. The leaves came out all curled up (they didn't turn brown) AND...of the two trees that I purchased has not filled out like the other is still leggy. Both trees are in the same spot,(about 15 ft apart) receive the same amount of light. I'm clueless..can you help?

Answer: Cherries generally do best in a moist but well drained soil in full sun. The difference between the trees could be accounted for by a number of factors. Perhaps one graft is better than the other or the weaker tree has failed to root into the surrounding soil. One could also be receiving more water than the other due to surface drainage patterns, or the soil might be better in one spot than the other, or one might be suffering from an insect or disease problem.

Two likely causes of poor, little cherries are lack of nutrients and drought stress. Water is critical during the growing and ripening process -- too little or too much will both cause poor fruit quality.

In addition, most gardeners find that their trees require a regular preventive spray routine in order to produce quality fruit. Your might contact your County Extension for the most up to date recommendations for your area since they can vary depending on the variety of tree, the local weather and the local incidence of pests and diseases. They should also be able to diagnose the current problems you are seeing and suggest what to do next. I'm sorry about your trees.

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