The sour cherry – a small fruit species

Sour cherry

For those who love liqueurs, jams or cakes and want to make them themselves, sour cherries are a must. Sour cherries have more aroma than sweet cherries and some varieties are not as sour as many think. I'm thinking in particular of the morello fire variety, which is very refreshing.

The sour cherry was a very popular garden tree, because it usually found a place in the house gardens as a small fruit tree species. In the last 10 to 15 years, the sour cherry has disappeared from the gardens in many areas. The reason for this development was that the sour cherry variety morello was planted out as a predominantly self-fertile variety. However, this variety was highly susceptible to the fungal disease flower and branch monilia. This resulted in many sour cherry trees dying off.

Meanwhile, there are numerous varieties that make cultivation in the house garden possible. The advantage also lies in the fact that, unlike the sweet cherry, there are no major problems with "cherry bursting".


The ideal location for the cherry is a soil rich in humus, somewhat interspersed with sand. Such soils are characterised by a great wealth of micro-organisms and are therefore a good plant location.

Cultivation forms

In areas with high rainfall, the sour cherry on a trellis is recommended. It finds protection under the house roof. This greatly reduces the susceptibility to shotholes and flower monilia. The round crown is well suited as a small-crowned house tree and design element in the garden.


Recommended sour cherry varieties

Morello fire: This variety ripens in mid-July. The yield is high and regular, but it is susceptible to disease. Morello fire is well suited for fresh consumption, but is a good tip especially for juice production.

Hungarian sour cherry: This variety ripens around the end of July and is characterised by high sugar and acid values. It can be planted practically anywhere, is extremely vigorous and, above all, less susceptible to flower and branch monilia. It is self-fertile, but the community with other sour cherry varieties such as morello, morina or morello fire helps to increase the yield significantly.

Köröszer II: This variety from Hungary is an early ripening sour cherry variety (third to fourth cherry week). It is characterised by its dark red coloured very large fruits.) Köröszer II produces regular, medium-high yields. Due to its low acidity, it is suitable for fresh consumption, is only partially self-fertile, firm fleshed and therefore very suitable for transportation.

Saskia: This variety also belongs to the early varieties. It is dark red in colour and is classified as very interesting in taste. Saskia is also very suitable for sale in the fresh produce market segment as well as for direct marketing and the home garden. As a self-fertile variety it achieves very satisfactory yields.

Gerema: This well-known variety was bred at the research institute in Geisenheim, Germany. Gerema is a dark and firm small fruit. It blooms very late and is self-fertile. A positive characteristic is its robustness against monilia and leaf spot disease and it is therefore recommended for the house garden. It is not one of the most efficient sour cherry varieties in terms of yield.

Morello: This sour cherry variety was very widespread in Tyrol, Austria, but was strongly suppressed by flower monilia. It is a self-fertile variety and well suited to juice production. Due to its extremely high susceptibility to flower monilia, the morello cherry is only recommended in areas with little rainfall.

Morina: A very juicy, fleshy and brown-red large sour cherry variety. It ripens in July, is rather sweet/sour and very suitable for juice production. It is partially self-fertile. However, several varieties significantly increase the yield. In particular, morina is less susceptible to monilia and leaf spot disease.

Safir: A dark to black-red, matt glossy, soft to medium firm fruit. Less susceptible to monilia and leaf spot disease. The variety is self-fertile.


What is meant by "self-fertile" and "self-sterile"?

Those who read catalogues often come across terms like self-sterile (requiring a pollen donator) and self-fertile (capable of self fertilisation). Those who plant fruit trees in their gardens should familiarise themselves with these terms. These are decisive terms for fertilisation and yield.
Flowers that can fertilise themselves with their own pollen are called self-fertile varieties. Varieties that require a pollen donator from the same species are called self-sterile (non-self-fertile).

In the case of sour cherries or apricots, there are self-fertile and non-self-fertile (self-sterile) varieties. I therefore recommend enquiring in detail about the fertility of the individual varieties with an experienced expert when planting.

VIKING Garden Expert
Manfred Putz

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