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Sweet cherry cultivars with resistance to ice blight west of the Cascades?
5 Posts
August 25, 2015 - 8:52 pm

Long-time lurker, first time poster--thanks for the wealth of information you all share on this site.  It might be an unusual time of year to bring up this topic, but I've been unwrapping some cherry chip buds and thinking about future additions.  I have a little orchard in SW Oregon about 15 miles from the coast and we get hammered by ice blight (i.e. pseudomonas/bacterial canker).  

So far, only Gold, Sam, and Santina show high levels of resistance for me (along with mediocre flavor), and I'd love to know if you are growing any good resistant cultivars.  I'd especially like to hear from fellow masochists trying to get sweet cherries west of the Coast Range.  Thanks.  

453 Posts
August 26, 2015 - 7:50 pm

Welcome to the forum ElMango!

If you get an answer, I'm curious to see myself.  

i think my sweet cherries were all hit by what was probably cherry fruit fly this year (I falsely suspected Spotted Wing Drosophila which seems to have been mercifully absent this year so far).

5 Posts
August 26, 2015 - 9:04 pm

Thanks for the response Jafar, and for the work you do on this forum. I split my time between the Coast and the Willamette Valley and it's interesting to see the differences.  We get cherry fruit fly in the fall near the coast, coinciding with the Prunus Emarginata season, and this year was pretty bad for SWD down there.  From what I've heard SWD doesn't do well in dry heat, which might explain the lower counts in the Valley this year, but the temps were still within range closer to the ocean.

One of my fruit exploring pals is a microbiologist who specializes in Pseudomonas and he says that the mutability and some of the sneaky tactics of this genus make it a force to be reckoned with.  I don't trust the resistance reports coming out of the East/Midwest because we likely have different pathovars out here, so hopefully we left-coasters can compile a rough list of survivors. My orchard near the coast is definitely a test site because I've had cankers devour entire apple and Asian pear trees in a few weeks.  Hide your pets, the Ice Blight cometh.        

429 Posts
August 29, 2015 - 1:00 am

Well I would have to agree with your comments ElMango about PSS  (the bacteria). Around here about all you can do is wait for the weather to dry or for it to warm. I have never heard of the disease taking pear trees let alone apple. 

The four kinds of cherries from around where I live that I trust the most are my Early Burlat, my F12/1, other Royal Anne trees, and in the wild any crosses you encounter between sweet cherry and the prunus emarginata you mentioned earlier. Crosses are not much worth for fruit but I think they could be possible interstems for sweet cherry to make resistance. Crosses appear to outlive either parent so might be worth experimenting with. A one case at the southwest edge of Greenlawn park north of Bellevue WA, 148th street Northward. It seems big enough to possibly be 80 and even though toppled in a storm (most the roots air bound 8 years or more ago) still maintains new uprights from one side of what were branches, now becoming new rows of trees!

I keep wondering why a hybrid seems better than either. Some reading last year suggests a waged battle for nutrients (disease vs growing tree cells) which could bring victory owing to the hybrid vigor nature of hybrids. Hypothetically at least..

5 Posts
August 29, 2015 - 6:04 pm

Thanks Rooney, always nice to hear from growers close to the Pacific--I choose a lot of my varieties of pome and stone based on recommendations out of Western Washington, from Mt. Vernon and others.

Good to know that Burlat does well in your area--I have one on G5 and a few on Mazzard.  The one on G5 is a gummy mess, but the Mazzard trees are perfectly clean. I'm convinced of the strong rootstock influence on cultivar PSS resistance, so I'm also glad to hear that F12/1 does well for you. Colt is, from my observation and research field trials, the best choice for conferring pseudomonas resistance, but it's a spoiled primadonna that I cannot endorse to anyone but the most doting grower.   

I started my orchard before I knew anything about fruit growing, so I planted half of it in an area with no sun and no air movement from Sept-March, which is why that section is such a breeding ground for pseudomonas.  The Euro pears don't seem to be much affected, but the Asian pears seem to get infected at blossom time, which can be as early as March 1 after a mild winter.  Shinseiki, Hamese, Raja, and a few others do fine. Vista Bella seems to be the most susceptible apple, though I lost a Silken as well.  Some of those bareroot trees arrive brutalized by the big nurseries, with open wounds everywhere, so it's no wonder some of them succumb.  

I played around with the Prunus emarginata a bit, but it's the most Pseudomonas-susceptible plant I've seen.  We're talking puddles of gum the size of dinner plates at the base of infected trees.  Good firewood, though. I grafted some sweet cherries and plums onto the emarginata and all the grafts (buds) died before fruiting. Interestingly, the hybrid J plums (shiro) seemed the most compatible.  

As dumb luck would have it, I have some seedling P. avium I planted 10 years ago from seed collected from the wild that have shown good all-around disease resistance, as well as a semi-dwarfing habit.  They started flowering last year, but I haven't gotten fruit yet.  I may use them for seedling rootstock although I promised myself I would stay away from such folly.    

429 Posts
August 30, 2015 - 11:53 pm

I'm happy to hear somebody other than just me gaining that much experience between pss and sweet cherries. Colt is a hybrid. So is G5 but G5 is selected to pause growing of the scion cultivar too early. I have no time to find or post reference to when or where it had been tested but I do know a poor choice of a root in our area would be one that ceases growing too early on. Colt will be good in that regard as for us well watered areas because this semi-dwarfing root is not semi. 

Of course Fingers still crossed on the wait on pending further research.

I didn't know bitter cherry would have any less or equal share to pss than sweet so it may be well worth experimenting with replacements such as the faster growing series of hybrids G5 came and were developed from, and intrrrstingly the whole G series have not even sweet cherry in them(!). Counting chromosomes you would find them sterile hybrids of 2/3rd pie cherry, and being by the average more pss resistant than sweet cherry. My own observations are based on a limited few of pie cherry that mostly bloom later than sweet cherry using only 'blackgold' sweet cherry as an example to 'monmorency' (unsure), 'surefire', and hybrid dwarf bush cherry releases from Canada.

I would also support testing plum root such as the mutually compatible plum root for cherry which is patented as an interstem and currently licensed to a public nursery for California for their own dwarf sweet cherry sales. Impractical because there we get a root known as dwarf ('citation') and here to cause problems same as G5.

I know it seems like a lot of work for the little guys like us when we are hardly supported through Mount Vernon any more. East over there in Hood River they have to contend with pss to some degree as well and even if somebody would give better rootstock I still don't think it will revolutionize us to what they are.

Some plums can be grafted together as in your almost with Shiro with sweet cherry. Once you do it at a young enough stage like I have with 2 plums recently. My experience is sometimes a plum will bud and grow on a very young cherry. Will die off next winter. Will then become more used to the same graft combination once more the next year. Still keeping my fingers crossed though. If it ever works long term I would expect the cherry stock will be the modified one if it even goes that far. 

429 Posts
October 10, 2015 - 4:28 pm

Back again to extend onwards of PSS resistive cultivars (gold, sam, santina, burlat) to include Rainier, Regina, Sandra rose, all documented in 2010 Oregon suggested PNW cultivars (over 5 years ago) and all of which should be high end cherries. 

Would love to hear of any more and especially of self fertile higher quality or late blooming cultivars. Also would love to find a source of scion wood of santina. I do have redlac (red later blooming sport of rainier), regina, and burlat (all 3 self sterile) to trade.

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