Hi, there! This is the first time I've visited this forum :) For anyone I haven't met in other forums, I'm Jacci :) Commonly referred to as "Hugs". Nice to meet you :)
My DH and I are currently working on plans for spring planting. We planted a serviceberry in our backyard last summer to attract birds, and we'd like to add another summer fruit-bearing tree for them this year. I've read that birds generally love cherry trees, and I really like the appearance of them. My question is... what's the BEST cherry tree in terms of disease and pest resistance? We get Japanese Beetles (ugh) in June, do they swarm all over any type of cherry tree? I hate using pesticides (I have 3 small children), and I'd like to try and choose a tree that has little need for chemicals. Besides, with the tree being for the birds, the chemicals would be a bad idea anyway. I've also had trouble with leafspot and other foliage problems with other trees/shrubs and really don't want to pick a susceptible variety. I guess I need a good, attractive, clean tree. Any suggestions?
Also, I really only have room for one cherry. It would be GREAT to find a self-pollinating, disease resistant, ornamentally pleasing cherry tree :) In a perfect world??? LOL :) If I have to have 2 trees to get the BEST cherry bang for my buck, I can probably squeeze another one in somewhere... but it would be tight.
I've been looking at the "Montmorency" cherry tonight. I've only read great things, but was wondering if you all had any "negatives" for this tree. I've searched it on the PDB, but wondered if there was anyone who had info other than what I've found. Thanks, again!
Can the japanese beetles KILL trees or just make them look awful? I swear they ate so much of the foliage off our plums last year that I wondered if they'd be able to photosinthesize enough. Evidentally they did okay... they're in bud. I don't mind some rough looking leaves, but I don't want to have to replace a tree.
Back in the early fifties, when they first arrived, in my area of Virginia, they killed a couple of September (Sweet) cheries. The Early Richmond and Montmorency (sour) cherries survived the onslaught. They(beetles) don't reach those numbers even there anymore as predators have caught up with them
I think you may have to spray for JBs at least the first couple of years. Our new cherry trees had so few leaves even before the JBs emerged that I didn't think they could survive being stripped, and depending on how bad the beetles are for you this year they can definitely strip a tree bare. With the new construction I think you've mentioned around your place, you may have a particular problem with them (as we have for the last couple of years); all the dug-up earth seems to be great for breeding lots of grubs for the following year. You may be able to find alternatives to the stronger chemicals, but we went straight for the Sevin when we saw the beetles covering every leaf, as we feared we would otherwise lose our trees. They seemed to be particularly fond of the nectarine & japanese plum trees, too.
We do love our little Montmorency trees, though. We put them in 3 years ago, finally got a dozen cherries or so from each tree last year, but they had to contend with a year of drought (with drip irrigation) and then the wettest year on record, so they only really started growing well last year. The flavor is delicious, but they are a tart cherry. If you're after a sweet variety, a friend of ours just over the Potomac (also zone 6b) swears by Stella for productivity & toughness -- one of his trees got split down the middle by lightening a couple of years ago, and it's still producing buckets of cherries. They pit & freeze the sweet cherries and eat them frozen with a little cream drizzled over them for a treat that's just out of this world!
MMMMMM... no, no, we want tart cherries :) Every summer we go up to my husband's grandparent's house in Door County Wisconsin. There are orchards of Montmorency cherry trees up there and we always make a point of buying plenty of cherries to last the year. There is no better pie IMHO :)
However, the tree is really for birds until it gets big enough for us all to share. Because my garden is largely planted for wildlife, I really can't use Sevin. We did use it last year on the plums and it took care of the problem, but I was so concerned about my children being around those trees. I guess I'm just going to have to join the bizillion gardeners who try out a bizillion different methods for controlling those horrid beetles naturally. I might find a great deal of satisfaction in hand-picking and mashing them off the little trees. I can reach the top of our plums at this point, and the first several years of a Montmorency wouldn't be too bad.
BTW, what are ther best natural predators of Japanese Beetles? Maybe I need to check out the Pests & Diseases Forum. Possibly, with more birds in the yard this summer, the beetles could be more under control??? Wishful thinking??? :)
PLMK if you find any good alternative JB controls! I don't like using the stronger chemicals, but I've decided I'd rather use them sparingly than lose special plants & trees. The neighborhood kids just get warned off anything that's been sprayed. I'm not downplaying your concern, just saying we all have to figure out our own balance in our approach to chemical vs. organic methods.
We do put out beetle bags (well downwind of our trees!), and I think they make a dent, although there's always some debate about whether the lure is attracting more beetles than we'd get otherwise... but it seems worse if we don't have the bags out. Believe me when I tell you I cannot hand pick beetles often enough or fast enough to keep them off the cherry & plum trees, although hand picking did seem sufficient to limit damage to my snap beans last year.
I've heard that JBs will die from eating 4 O'Clock foliage, so I'm planting those around the orchard this year. I've also had good luck with something I think I've seen farmerdill suggest too -- planting a "trap crop" row of something the beetles really love, and then spraying those plants with Sevin. Of course, that doesn't help if you're trying to keep the Sevin out of your yard altogether and not just off your fruit trees. I wonder if one of the pyrethrum sprays would be effective against japanese beetles...
Well, as I said, keep me posted if you find any promising information!
Well, I've been searching DG and I did find some info about Egyptian Onions being a possible deterent. When I find out more, I'll let you know. Look for a possible post in Pests & Diseases :)
Also, please remember that 4 o' clocks are EXTREMELY poisonous to humans as well as beetles. With so many children around, critter, you may want to reconsider... but, as you said, the way to control these badboys is really a personal decision for each gardener.
So, I'll come back here and let you know if I find out any more about the natural controls :)
Hmmm, didn't know 4 o'clocks were that toxic; will be careful in locating them. Our neighborhood kids are currently either over 6 years old or not yet crawling, so I'm not too concerned this year. They know that many of my plants & flowers are edible, but they've also been trained to ask before they taste, even with one they know is "safe" just in case I've had to spray near it. They love the idea that there's nearly always something in our yard that they can taste or nibble, but the concept is new enough to them that they really are good about asking first. Still, I'll put the 4 O'Clocks in the center of the orchard area, since the kids generally stick to the perimeter areas unless I'm with them.
Welp, I've redirected the JB portion of this thread to a new thread in the Garden Foes Forum. I also linked the thread about the Egyptian Onions there :)
So, it's pretty plain that I'm going to have to contend with the JBs if I want a small, fruiting tree w/i the Prunus genus. Are there any other pests/diseases to be aware of with the Montmorency Cherry? Just wanting to get a good idea of what I'm planting. I'm already regretting planting the plums we put in last year. Don't want to make another poor tree choice.