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Cherry suggestions?
Cherry rootstocks
2 Posts
January 7, 2023 - 5:31 pm

What rootstock would you recommend for home cherry trees in the central Willamette Valley? I'm looking to get 3 trees and am currently thinking either Chelan or Black Pearl, Rainier, and Lapins. I'd like to keep the trees in the 12-15ft range without exhaustive pruning effort, though I plan on prunning annually. The sites are full sun, but soils are a bit heavier and poorer than ideal. Never experience standing water of any kind, but soils can be wet at times in winter. A precocious rootstock would be preferable, but not if causes other issues.

I'm buying nursery trees, not grafting anything myself. Based on extension service info, I wanted to find trees on Krymsk 6, but have not been able to locate a source. It seems Gisela 5, F12/1, and Colt are what is available. I'm worried about the disease sensitivity and small size of Gisela 5, but F12/1 and Colt seem like they'd produce very large trees that would require a lot of pruning.  They also seem to take much longer to produce. 


John S
2849 Posts
January 8, 2023 - 9:42 am

Colt has been good to me.  I also just graft them onto seedlings that come up under the  tree when I spit out the pits.

Mine were about 12 feet high until I biocharred them. Now they're about 18 feet high, but the quality and production are worth it to me.

Of course, if you biocharred a smaller type, they would probably get bigger too.

John S

Vancouver SW Washington
798 Posts
January 8, 2023 - 4:33 pm

@ JJ: -From Good Fruit dot com this article on choices-for-cherry-rootstocks is apparently featuring just that as far as sweet cherry plans and dwarfing them. 

@ John: I would have always guessed that by enriching the ground the way you recently have that more work would be involved controlling it as far as Colt is concerned. If you had a super productive sour cherry like surefire on Colt or any of those highly producing sweet cherry types per the Lynn E Long images this should work quite well then. 

Every time you bring up Biochar I think it's very much needed around here. A reason I'm glad you do is of course disease pressure around the Willamette being our greatest threat for most of us. Especially living in a city, upsetting neighbors or staff at poison control etc. 

I live in a well drained lot and have yet to manage an easily controlled combination of a 4 foot highly grafted sweet cherry on prunus mahaleb rootstock. On the other hand I had a very small sweet cherry 'early burlat' that remained easy on GM-9 as grafted from the nursery and has not been listed lately either. 

I cut it thinking suckers would come. They did. Might be working as a stem builder and spreader, then grafted once more with sweet cherry another year down the road.

Vancouver SW Washington
798 Posts
January 10, 2023 - 3:28 pm

As it turns out the roots that I was talking about that I forced from under my 'Early Burlat' cherry is not GM-9 after all. So Gm-9 was under my old 'Surefire' sour cherry then which ended up with lots of diseased branches regarding Surefire. 

Here is the evidence that I found pointing to needing to recover my error:

which upon examining the tag was descriptive of a Gisela-5 rootstock.

The photograph negatives show 2005, which indicate an 11 year old planting at the time, and goes to show that Early Burlat is one of the proven cultivars to resist disease in PNW Willamette regions. Usually cherry cultivars won't show overgrowth at the Gisela-5 union but in the case of early burlat the overgrowth is expected with almost any rootstock graft.

Also note JJ, that I updated the proper link from my first post to bring into focus for you the Good Fruit dot com excerpt illustrations they brought in from Lynn E Long book publication he recently put out for sale.

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