Our Cherry Varieties

All our cherries are the big, sweet dark cherries, sorry, we won’t have white cherries until 2022

(We have been planting new  white cherries  and re-grafting some of our other trees to Napoleon  and Rainier to replace the 23 we lost in a heavy frost the year they were planted.)

  • Viola – a large, dark sweet cherry, great for eating. (Approx. December 5 until sold out). We seem to be the only growers in SA to have these lovely cherries.
  • Merchant – large dark early cherry, (Approx December 5 until sold out)
  • Stella – one of the first and best of the modern cherries. (Approx. Dec. 10 until sold out)
  • Summit  – very big, with great flavour; hard to grow, but delicious. (Approx. Dec. 10 until sold out). Many SA growers are pruning these with a bull-dozer, because they are so unreliable.
  • Bing – great flavoured big dark American cherry,good for cooking and freezing. Liable to split if there is even moderate summer rain (to the heartbreak of the owners). (Approx. Dec. 18 until sold out).
  • Van – a firm, nutty flavour, big and dark. (Approx. Dec. 15 until sold out). Crops exuberantly, which makes it prone to overcrowding.
  • Lapins – big, dark, one of the top export cherries. (Approx. Dec. 17 until sold out).
  • Simone – very similar to Lapin, ready a few days later. (Approx. Dec 20 until sold out).
  • Sweetheart – big, delicious – just coming into full production (Approx Dec 27 – Jan 10)
  • Sour Cherries – Morellos. (approx January 3-16) THE cooking cherry. These are grown for our cherry ice-cream and cherry liqueurs.

How do you know which cherry is which? – our colour code:

All cherry trees look pretty much alike.

So we have painted a band of colour around the bottom of each tree to make it easy for everyone to know what cherry they are picking.
Sometimes you have to look carefully, because the trees put on a few centimetres around their middle each year and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d  their paint band.

Of course we will show you on the day you come picking, but here are the colours we use:

  • Viola – hot pink
  • Merchant – yellow
  • Stella– dark green
  • Summit  – white
  • Bing – pale blue
  • Van – orangy-brown (burnt sienna for purists)
  • Lapins – light purple
  • Simone – dark red
  • Sweetheart – dark red in a different part of the orchard (planned to be painted 2018)
  • Sour Cherries – not marked – the trees look very different from the sweet cherries. They have smaller leaves and fruit.

Preserving

The simplest way to preserve cherries is to rinse and stem them, then freeze them whole in plastic bags.  It is easy then to squeeze the stones out when they have de-frosted.


Cooking

Sweet cherries: We recommend the Bings, as the best sweet cherry for cooking. They are featured in many U.S. recipes for cherry pie.

Sour cherries: give the best cooking flavour.


Sour Cherries

Customers tell us of great sour cherries in Hungary and Iran, but they are not available in Australia. The best sour cherry available is the Morello cherry and at last our new trees are producing and we have enough to sell.

Cherry History: where did our cherries come from?

Bing 1875 United States

From Wikipedia

“Bing is a cultivar of the wild or sweet cherry (Prunus avium) that started in the Pacific Northwest, in Milwaukie, Oregon, United States. The Bing remains a major cultivar in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. It is the most produced variety of sweet cherry in the United States.

The cultivar was created as a crossbred graft from the Republican cherry in 1875 by Oregon horticulturist Seth Lewelling and his Manchurian Chinese foreman Ah Bing, for whom the cultivar is named.

Ah Bing

Ah Bing was reportedly born in China and emigrated to the U.S. in about 1855. He worked as a foreman in the Lewelling family fruit orchards in Milwaukie for about 35 years, supervising other workers and caring for trees. He went back to China in 1889 for a visit. Due to the restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 he never returned to the United States.[1][2] Some say Ah Bing developed the cultivar, others that it was developed by Lewelling and named in Bing’s honour due to his long service as orchard foreman.[1][3]

Bing cherries are used almost exclusively for the US fresh market. Bings are large, dark and firm cherries that ship well, but will crack open if exposed to rain near harvest. “

Additional comment:

We tend to get one or two heavy rainfalls in summer in the Adelaide Hills. Unfortunately, Bings try to split if they even see a cloud, let alone get a few drops of rain on them.  For that reason many growers have replaced them with other cherries less prone to splitting. We have kept three rows, because they do have a wonderful flavour and are one of the best sweet cherries for cooking if they don’t get rained on.  They are brilliant for cherry pies and also nice picked semi dried from the tree for cheese platters.

Stella is the start of the modern Cherry Industry bred 1956 Canada/England

From Wikipedia

“Stella is a cultivar of cherry developed in British Columbia, Canada. It is notable as the first self-fertile sweet cherry to be named. It has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Cultivar history

The Stella variety was the result of a breeding program at the John Innes Institute in Norwich, England. That program developed three self-fertile seedlings, which were used in attempts to breed high-quality self-fertile cherry trees. One of the seedlings was crossed with the Lambert variety at the Summerland Research Station in Summerland, British Columbia in 1956 by K. O. Lapins (namesake of the Lapins cherry cultivar), and the resulting hybrid tree was named “Stella” in 1968.  It has since been used to develop other cultivars, including the Chelan cherry.”

Additional comment:

Not only is Stella self fertile, it is also a universal polleniser for almost all other cherries grown in Australia.  This is why we regard it as the foundation cherry for all contemporary cherry orchards. Every orchard will have plenty of Stellas planted throughout the other trees. They have a long flowering time of three weeks which means that they are a source of pollen for all the other cherries no matter whether they are early or late flowering. They are big and juicy.

Van 1944 Canada

From Wikipedia

“Van is a cultivar of cherry originating from Canada.

Cultivar history

The Van cultivar originated from open pollination of an “Empress Eugenie” tree.[1][2] It was developed in Summerland, British Columbia at the Summerland Research Station. The cross was made in 1936, selected in 1942, and introduced in 1944, with the resulting tree named in honor of horticulturalist J. R. Van Haarlen.[3] The Van cherry was one of the parent varieties of the Lapins cherry.”

Additional comment:

This is a great cherry with a lovely nutty flavour. It can get very large if there are not too many of them in a cluster. 

Black Douglas  1940’s Australia SA Bishop Orchards

These were my favourite cherry as a child and we planted them because of the strong memories of them.  They were planted extensively in the Adelaide Hills. They are well flavoured, firm, reliable and do not split easily.  They are not as big as other later bred cherries, so most growers have replaced them.  They are fantastic for bottling or preserving in wine because they stay firm. They are ready late in the season.

Lapins 1983 Canada developed by K O Lapins

From Wikipedia

“Lapins (also marketed as Cherokee) is a cultivar of cherry. It is a hybrid of the Van and Stella cultivars. It has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[3]

Cultivar history

The Lapins cultivar was developed in Summerland, British Columbia at the Summerland Research Station.[4] It was one of the varieties developed by the agronomist Karlis O. Lapins, a native of Latvia who did pioneering work in the development of self-fertile cherry cultivars. Though the cultivar was not released until 1983, years after his retirement, it was named in his honor.”

Additional comment:

Lapins  has become one of SA and Australia’s top export cherry.  It seems very well suited to our conditions and is strong in flavour, keeps well and is a large cherry when picked fully ripe.

Sweetheart 1982 Canada

From Wikipedia

“The Sweetheart cherry is a cultivar of cherry. It is a hybrid of the Van and Newstar cultivars first developed in Canada.

The Sweetheart cultivar was developed at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, British Columbia. The cross was made in 1975 and selected in 1982, and the variety was officially released in 1994. It has since been used as a parent cultivar for several new varieties, including Staccato, Sentennial, and Sovereign. The American Society for Horticultural Science awarded Sweetheart their Outstanding Fruit Cultivar award in 2012.

Sweetheart is a self-fertile cultivar which can be used as a “universal pollinator” for other cherry varieties with similar bloom time. The flowers bloom about 2-3 days before Bing.  It is a very heavy producer, with overcropping being a potential issue. The tree is highly susceptible to powdery mildew.”

Additional comment

Sweetheart is a late-season cherry. It crops reliably and has a good flavour and size.

Viola Germany 1981

Viola is a dark variety of sweet cherries belonging to the cartilage cherries . Because of its positive properties, it is one of the main varieties of the Old Land .

The hybrid ‘Viola’ was bred in 1957 by the fruit growing research institute Jork by crossing the varieties ‘ Schneider’s late Knorpelkirsche ‘ and ‘ Rube ‘ and brought onto the market in 1981.

Summit 1974 bred by  K.O.Lapins Canada

Can J.Plant Sc. 54: 851 attributed to K O Lapins

Additional comment:

Summits are a very large well flavoured cherry but increasingly unreliable given changing climate conditions. They need a 1200 chill hours below 7 degrees C in winter which they some times don’t get now.  Many SA growers have pruned them with a bulldozer. We have kept 3 rows just for the wonderful years when we do get a crop from them.

Rainier a white cherry variety ready from 2024

From US National Cherry Festival Traverse Michigan, https://www.cherryfestival.org/p/about/festival-history

“The Rainier cherry, a light sweet variety, originated from the cross breeding of the Bing and Van varieties by Dr. Harold W. Fogle at the Washington State University Research Station in Prosser, Washington”.