Welcome to the world of cherry tree cultivation! If you’re looking to add a touch of sweetness to your garden, the Skeena cherry tree (Prunus avium ‘Skeena’) is an excellent choice. Known for its exceptional flavor and abundant harvests, the Skeena cherry tree is a favorite among both home gardeners and commercial growers. This variety, which originated in Canada, is prized for its large, dark red fruit that is bursting with juicy, sweet-tart flavor.
In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about growing and caring for Skeena cherry trees, from selecting the right planting location to providing the necessary care and maintenance to ensure a bountiful harvest. So, grab your gardening gloves and let’s dive into the wonderful world of Skeena cherry tree cultivation!
What is a Skeena Cherry?
The Skeena cherry is a popular variety known for its exceptional flavor and firm texture. It is a late-season cherry, typically ripening in mid to late July. The fruit is medium to large in size, with a dark red to almost black skin color. The flesh is juicy, sweet, and slightly tart, making it perfect for fresh eating or use in various culinary applications.
The Skeena cherry tree is a vigorous and productive variety, known for its high yields. It is a self-fertile tree, meaning it does not require another cherry tree for pollination. However, planting another compatible cherry variety nearby can increase fruit production. This cherry tree thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. It is adaptable to a wide range of climates, including both warm and cool regions.
The Skeena cherry tree is also known for its resistance to cracking, making it a reliable choice for areas with heavy rainfall. Pruning is essential to maintain the tree’s shape, promote air circulation, and facilitate fruit production. Regular watering, especially during dry periods, is crucial for the tree’s overall health and fruit development.
Additionally, applying a balanced fertilizer in early spring can help promote vigorous growth and enhance fruit quality. With proper care and maintenance, the Skeena cherry tree can provide an abundant harvest of delicious cherries year after year.
What does a Skeena Cherry taste like?
The Skeena cherry is known for its exceptional flavor profile, making it a favorite among cherry enthusiasts. It offers a delightful combination of sweet and tangy flavors that are well-balanced and highly enjoyable.
The sweetness of the Skeena cherry is prominent, with a rich and intense taste that is reminiscent of dark cherries. It has a natural sweetness that is not overly sugary, making it a perfect choice for those who prefer a more subtle sweetness in their cherries.
In addition to its sweetness, the Skeena cherry also possesses a pleasant tanginess. This tartness adds a refreshing and slightly acidic note to the overall flavor profile, providing a nice contrast to the sweetness. The balance between the sweet and tangy flavors is what sets the Skeena cherry apart and makes it truly exceptional.
Furthermore, the Skeena cherry has a distinct and robust cherry flavor. It offers a deep, complex taste that is often described as having hints of blackberry or plum. This unique flavor profile adds depth and character to the cherry, making it a standout choice for culinary purposes.
Overall, the flavor profile of the Skeena cherry can be described as sweet, tangy, and rich, with a delightful balance of flavors. Whether eaten fresh, used in desserts, or made into preserves, the Skeena cherry is sure to impress with its exceptional taste.
How to start Skeena Cherry from seed
Starting Skeena Cherry trees from seeds can be a bit challenging, as they may not come true to the parent plant. However, if you are up for the challenge, here is a guide on how to start Skeena Cherry trees from seeds:
- Seed Collection: Obtain fresh Skeena Cherry seeds from a reliable source. Make sure the cherries are fully ripe before harvesting the seeds.
- Seed Preparation: Remove the seeds from the cherries and wash them thoroughly to remove any pulp or residue. Soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours can help soften the outer seed coat and improve germination rates.
- Cold Stratification: Skeena Cherry seeds require a period of cold stratification to break their dormancy and stimulate germination. Place the seeds in a moistened paper towel or a ziplock bag with some damp peat moss or vermiculite. Seal the bag and refrigerate it for about 90 to 120 days at a temperature of 32-41°F (0-5°C). This mimics the natural winter conditions the seeds would experience outdoors.
- Germination: After the cold stratification period, remove the seeds from the refrigerator and sow them in individual pots or seed trays filled with a well-draining seed-starting mix. Plant the seeds about 1 inch deep and cover them lightly with soil.
- Warmth and Moisture: Place the pots or trays in a warm location with temperatures around 70-75°F (21-24°C). Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. You can cover the containers with a plastic dome or wrap them in a plastic bag to create a greenhouse-like environment that helps retain moisture.
- Transplanting: Once the seedlings have developed a few sets of true leaves and are strong enough to handle, usually after 6-8 weeks, they can be transplanted into larger pots or containers. Use a well-draining potting mix and ensure the new containers have adequate drainage holes.
- Care and Maintenance: Provide the seedlings with ample sunlight, at least 6-8 hours a day. Water them regularly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Fertilize with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer according to the package instructions. Protect the seedlings from extreme temperatures, pests, and diseases.
- Hardening Off and Planting Out: Before planting the seedlings outdoors, gradually expose them to outdoor conditions over a period of 1-2 weeks. Start by placing them in a sheltered location for a few hours a day, gradually increasing the time and exposure to direct sunlight. Once the seedlings have acclimated, choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-draining soil to plant them.
Keep in mind that growing cherry trees from seeds can be unpredictable, and it may take several years for the trees to bear fruit. For more reliable and faster results, consider obtaining grafted Skeena Cherry trees from a reputable nursery. Grafted trees ensure that you get the desired characteristics of the parent plant.
When to plant Skeena Cherry outdoors
The ideal time to plant Skeena Cherry trees is during the late winter or early spring, before the tree starts to bud and the ground thaws. This allows the tree to establish its root system before the onset of hot summer temperatures. In most regions, planting Skeena Cherry trees in February or March is recommended. However, it’s important to consider the local climate and frost dates, as planting times may vary slightly depending on the specific location.
Growing & care guide Skeena Cherry
Caring for Skeena cherry trees requires attention to various aspects, including planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and pest control. Here are some best practices to ensure the health and productivity of your Skeena cherry tree:
- Planting: Choose a well-drained location that receives full sun for at least six hours a day. Skeena cherries prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. Ensure proper spacing between trees, typically 15 to 20 feet apart, to allow for good air circulation.
- Watering: Young Skeena cherry trees need regular watering to establish a strong root system. Provide deep, thorough watering once a week, ensuring the soil is moist but not waterlogged. During hot and dry periods, increase the frequency of watering to prevent drought stress.
- Fertilizing: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring before new growth begins. Use a formulation specifically designed for fruit trees, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid excessive nitrogen, as it can promote excessive vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.
- Pruning: Pruning is essential for maintaining the shape, size, and overall health of your Skeena cherry tree. Prune during the dormant season, preferably in late winter or early spring before bud break. Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches. Thin out crowded areas to improve airflow and sunlight penetration. Aim for an open center or modified central leader shape to allow light to reach all parts of the tree.
- Pest control: Regularly inspect your Skeena cherry tree for signs of pests such as aphids, cherry fruit flies, or cherry slug sawflies. If detected, consider using organic pest control methods or consult with a local gardening expert for appropriate treatments. Netting can also be used to protect the fruit from birds.
- Disease management: Skeena cherries are susceptible to various diseases, including brown rot, bacterial canker, and powdery mildew. To prevent these diseases, practice good sanitation by removing fallen leaves and fruit from the ground. Apply organic fungicides during the appropriate times, following the instructions on the product label.
- Harvesting: Skeena cherries are typically ready for harvest in mid to late summer, depending on your region. Look for fully colored, firm cherries with a sweet aroma. Gently twist or cut the cherries from the stem to avoid damaging the tree. Harvest regularly to prevent over-ripening and to discourage pests.
Remember, every garden and climate is unique, so it’s essential to adapt these best practices to your specific conditions. Regular observation, care, and attention will help ensure a bountiful harvest of delicious Skeena cherries from your tree.
Harvesting guide for Skeena Cherry
The Skeena cherry is a popular variety known for its large, dark red fruit and sweet flavor. To ensure a successful harvest, it’s important to understand the optimal timing and proper technique for harvesting Skeena cherries.
The timing of the harvest is crucial to ensure that the cherries are ripe and at their peak flavor. Skeena cherries typically ripen in mid to late summer, usually around July or August, depending on your specific location and climate. The exact timing may vary slightly from year to year, so it’s essential to monitor the cherries closely.
One of the primary indicators of ripeness is the color of the cherries. Skeena cherries start as green and gradually turn dark red as they ripen. When the cherries have a deep, uniform red color, they are likely ready for harvest. Additionally, the cherries should be plump and firm to the touch.
Another reliable method to determine ripeness is by tasting a few cherries. Pick a few cherries from different parts of the tree and sample them. Ripe Skeena cherries should be sweet, juicy, and have a well-developed flavor. If the cherries taste slightly tart or lack sweetness, it’s an indication that they need more time to ripen.
To harvest Skeena cherries, follow these steps:
- Choose a dry day to harvest the cherries. Wet cherries are more prone to spoilage and can be challenging to handle.
- Gently grasp the cherry between your thumb and forefinger, then twist it slightly. Ripe cherries should come off the stem with minimal effort. If the cherry doesn’t detach easily, it may not be fully ripe yet.
- Avoid pulling or yanking the cherries forcefully, as this can damage the tree or cause the fruit to split.
- Place the harvested cherries carefully in a shallow container or basket to prevent bruising. Avoid piling the cherries too high, as the weight can crush the ones at the bottom.
- Continue harvesting the ripe cherries, working your way around the tree and checking different branches.
- If there are any unripe cherries remaining on the tree, leave them to ripen further. You can revisit the tree in a few days to harvest the remaining fruit.
- Once you have finished harvesting, store the cherries in a cool place or refrigerate them to maintain their freshness and flavor.
Remember, cherries are delicate fruits, so handle them with care during the harvesting process to avoid any damage. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and savor the delicious taste of Skeena cherries!