Rainier cherries are the standard variety in the blush category. They are yellow and red, 7/8 inch wide with firm fruit. They are extremely winter hardy and, according to Cornell University, very productive. While Bing cherries harvest mid season, Rainier varieties are ready for picking six to eight days later. Rainiers command a premium price over the dark red types.
Dig a hole 18 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Set the cherry tree's roots in the hole and partially re-fill it with the removed soil. Push down lightly on the soil. Keep the graft union about 3 inches above the ground level. Pull up on the plant gently, if needed, to keep it at the right level.
Fill the hole completely with soil and tamp down to remove air pockets. Give each tree 2 gallons of water to get it established. Put a 12-inch cylinder of hardware cloth around the base of the tree trunk to keep rabbits away.
Water the tree every two weeks unless it has rained at least 1 inch since the last watering.
Keep the area around the cherry trees weed-free to a radius of 3 to 4 feet. Spread herbicides but keep the chemicals 2 feet from the trunk. Alternately, pull weeds out by hand. The weeds compete with the cherry tree for water and nutrients.
Give the trees a nitrogen food such as urea or ammonium nitrate two weeks after planting then again six weeks after planting. You can also use a complete blend with a ratio like 10-10-10. Give each tree 0.05 pounds of actual nitrogen. Put the food 6 to 8 inches from the trunk to keep the Rainier cherries from getting damaged. Fertilize Rainier cherry trees with nitrogen annually.
Things You Will Need
- Hardware cloth
- Nitrogen fertilizer
- Cornell University: Cherry Varieties in New York State
- Washington State University Cooperative Extension: The Leading Pest of Cherries Is The Cherry Fruit Fly..But It's Not The Fly That Matters
- Oregon State University: Sweet Cherry Cultivars
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: Growing Cherries in Virginia