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A forum for growing rare fruits, edibles and Permaculture with a focus on tropicals.

Some last minute observations on low chill cherries and more

Postby Axel » Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:04 am

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Location: Hanalei Bay, HI & Fallbrook, CA
Climate Zone: 12b/H2 & 10b/S23
When it comes to low chill deciduous fruit trees, there is an awful lot of mis-information being promulgated out there. Some of the info being passed around is just plain false. What truly defines a fruit tree as being low chill? I have a very simple definition: any tree that will break bud with very little heat units after a very small period of dormancy in coolish temperatures. OK, all of that is still pretty vague, but the point is that high heat often negates lack of chill. This means that if it gets hot enough, any tree that didn't get enough Winter chill might break dormancy anyway.

In Southern California, it's rare to get an opportunity to observe this kind of early dormancy break, because Winters down here feature many heatwaves that bring Summer-like temperatures and interrupt or even negate chill accumulations. But this Winter has been unusually rainy and devoid of any significant heat waves. (I will admit to not having been here for most of the Winter, spending most of my time in Hawaii, but I do have a weather station running here, that's probably a much better empirical observation point.) So there hasn't been enough heat to induce abnormal dormancy break, i.e. bud break from high heat even though there wasn't enough chill. It's fascinating to observe which trees are actually breaking dormancy in 50-60F degree weather. So far, only dorsett golden and anna apples, eva's pride peach, and royal lee, and mini royal cherries have broken dormancy. Everything else is totally dormant, I mean solid dormancy.

The tell tale signs of lack of chill are excessive bloom production, bud break that doesn't happen all at once and lots of blind wood. But these varieties are not showing any signs of that. In fact, the cherries are even forming more growing buds, which is totally normal for a standard size tree. In Northern cold climates, trees often won't bloom for the first 5-7 years, and this is exactly what is happening with these low chill trees. You can see that in the photos below.

This is an eva's pride peach planted on North side of an avocado tree.


Below is royal lee and mini royal, notice that the buds are turning into growth buds, not flowers as it should be at that size, this is a full size cherry tree, and it needs to get to 20-30 feet before it starts to bloom.


I've always maintained that the royal lee and mini royal are true low chill cherries. This is just more proof for the same. I believe their chill requirement is on par with anna and dorsett golden apples.
Tropical gardening in both Kaua'i windward Sunset H2/USDA 12b and Fallbrook Sunset 23/USDA 10b.

Re: Some last minute observations on low chill cherries and

Postby Jason (palo alto) » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:29 am

Jason (palo alto)
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Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2010 9:04 pm
Location: Redwood City, CA
Climate Zone: Z17, 9b
Your images are missing.

I just got a 6GM25 self-fruitful low-chill cherry this year.
I'll probably add Royal Lee and Mini Royal next year.
Hoping for cherries without chill :D

Re: Some last minute observations on low chill cherries and

Postby marklee » Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:50 pm

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Location: San Diego
Climate Zone: 10
I have some small fruit on my spicezee nectaplum, and also my mid-pride peach is flowering. I know I got less than 100 chill hours this season. And at the same time I am able to fruit PawPaw which is supposed to only fruit at around 800 hours. I can't explain.
Mark Lee

Chula Vista, CA

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