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The Skeena Cherry Tree

The Skeena Cherry is an inspirational cherry!

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Please with a cherry on top.” It’s not surprising that it’s a saying. A cherry on top of ice cream makes the sundae something special. And what about cherry pie? If you’re a cherry lover, there’s nothing better than a warm piece of cherry, maybe with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Skeena Cherry Basket

And we could go on and on about everything that many people love about cherries. That’s why, if you’re a cherry lover, you may want to consider a Skeena cherry tree in your backyard.  

Once you learn the ins and outs of growing this cherry tree, you should have no problem growing a fruitful tree that you can enjoy. However, before we get into that, you should understand what makes the Skeena cherry unique. 

History of the Skeena Cherry

The Skeena cherry classifies as a sweet cherry that originated in Canada. This particular cherry tree is a hybrid created in Summerland, British Columbia — one of the cities Western Investor deemed as one of the top five retirement towns in British Columbia. One reason is, get this, because of its orchards. This cherry tree stems from a van and a Stella cherry tree crossed with a bing and a Stella. It was grown at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in 1976 for commercial purposes. Specifically, the center was looking to make a high-quality cherry tree that blooms late season. However, it wasn’t until 2000 that it received a patent and was released. Today, a Skeena can be grown in a number of places throughout the US. 

Fruit Tree / Fruit Characteristics

On average, the tree grows 10 to 15 feet in height after seven years. As it grows, it has a large spread. Typically, it has a medium flower density but yields a high density of fruit.  

The cherry is a larger than average cherry tree. Typically, it’s slightly firmer and thicker than many other varieties of cherries. The fruit is a dark cherry that’s resistant to rain. Usually, the cherries are rather hardy and stay well on the tree without splitting. The tree is rather a frost-resistant kind of cherry tree and tree in general. 

Planting Zones 

Cherries, including this one, tend to grow well in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) zone five. The states in this zone have an average minimum temperature between -10 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The last frost in these states tends to occur in May, while the first frost usually happens in November. 

Some examples of states in this planting zone include Pennsylvania, Montana, Minnesota, Virginia, Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts. Even Alaska falls into this category. Besides zone five, you may also consider this cherry tree if you live in zones six and seven as well. Zone six consists of states like Arizona, Nevada, and Kansas, while zone seven includes parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. 

You can learn more about how to grow this tree in your region by reading this blog.  

Size and Spacing

On average, the tree has a large spread and a moderate growth rate, ranging between 12 and 24 inches each year. Ideally, if you have more than one cherry tree, you want to space it between 12 and 16 feet apart from other cherry trees. Additionally, you want to keep it that far away from other trees. However, you should make sure you take into account that certain other types of trees have larger spreads, so make sure you take that into consideration. Your cherry tree will need sunlight in order for it to bear quality fruit. 

Pollination

Fortunately, a Skeena tree is a self-pollinator. That means you only need one tree to have fruit. The carpel and stamen of the flower mature simultaneously. They’re in a position where the pollen may reach the stigma. Moreover, this tree may pollinate other cherry trees as well, such as vans, Stellas, and morellos. 

Tree Care 

The Skeena is a rather simple cherry tree to care for, but it does require ample sunlight and water to flourish. Even the pruning isn’t extensive. 

Sunlight

The Skeena requires full sunlight. Therefore, you want to position it in a location in your yard that receives sunlight for most or all of the day. In addition, you should make sure that it’s in a location where other trees won’t rob it of its needed sunlight. Keep in mind that they’ll grow in partially shaded areas, but you’ll reap fewer cherries. 

Watering

When you first plant the tree, you want to water it generously. In fact, during the entire first summer of its growth, you want to make sure that it receives enough water if the conditions are. When it’s rainy, you won’t need to water it as much. After its first year, you should make sure that the tree gets between 12 and 25 gallons of water each week from May to September. 

Pruning 

Pruning A Cherry Tree
Pruner and garden saw for cutting branches of cherry bush overgrown with lichen.

Skeena’s are prone to many diseases, but if you find diseased branches, you want to remove those to prevent the spread. Additionally, you should remove any decay or damaged branches. Any open spaces on the branches allow pests and disease to enter. 

In the first year, you want to focus on shortening the main branch and nipping off the flowers. As a result, your tree will use all of its energy for root growth. You don’t want to let it grow fruits during its first two years. 

As it grows, you want to focus on removing a majority of the vertical branches. You also want to shorten the side branches. Make sure you’re doing this in July each year. However, you can do light pruning at any point of the year, just not heavy pruning. 

If you’d like more information about pruning the Skeena tree, visit Minnetonka Orchards’ blog. You can also find information about tree diseases and care specifically related to the Skeena cherry tree. 

Common Uses for the Skeena Cherry 

Cherry Cobbler
Rustic Cherry Cobbler (click for recipe)

Skeena cherries are known for their versatility when it comes to baking. However, you may choose to eat them raw. You can freeze, can, or dry them. You should keep in mind that these are a sweeter cherry. Therefore, when you’re making with them, you won’t need as much sugar. 

One example of something you can make with these cherries is a cherry pie. You could also make a cherry cheesecake. The sweet pairs well with cream cheese. Other examples include crumbles, tarts, jam, jelly, smoothies, ice cream toppers, and cobbler. Feel free to get creative and think of your own baked goods since they’re so versatile. For example, these recipes are with apples, but you can substitute or add cherries to them: fritterswaffles, or sauce

You may choose to can the cherries in water, juice, or syrup. You might want to add lemon to make the water acidic when you’re canning with water. You can choose to can the cherries whole or pitted. You may even want to consider chopping the cherries. 

If you could freeze the cherries, you can use them to cook all year long. You could also eat them frozen or defrosted. Cherries can be frozen whole or pitted. First, you’ll need to wash them and dry them thoroughly. You then place them on a tray in the freezer and allow them to freeze completely. You then bag them in freezer-safe zipper bags. 

Health Benefits of Skeena Cherries

These cherries are loaded with nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and copper. The Skeena cherries may have heart benefits because they have antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your heart from free radicle damage caused by oxidation. Typically, antioxidants are thought to lower your risk of heart disease. Antioxidants may also reduce your risk of certain types of cancer. The cherries are also known for having anti-inflammatory properties, so they are beneficial if you have arthritis. 

Where To Buy This Fruit Tree?

This fruit tree since it’s a hybrid isn’t easy to find and is often sold out if you’re lucky enough to find a nursery that carries this tree. In the meantime, you can check out cherry trees for sale at Nature Hills Nursery.

Fruit Facts

This is a late bloomer, and it’s more resistant to cracking than many other types of cherries. The reason why it’s known to be so sweet is that it comes from the bing cherry. This particular cherry variety is known as the sweetest cherry. 

Cherries in general are known for being low on the glycemic index, meaning they’re beneficial for blood sugar. Studies have been conducting on cherries related to gout. People with gout who consumed cherries regularly were known to have fewer attacks. 

Additionally, cherries contain melatonin. This is sold as a natural sleep aid. 

On average, cherry trees can live 25 to 50 years. 

Wrapping Up the Skeena Cherry Tree

Skeena cherries are a unique variety of cherries. You’ll benefit from the tree health-wise and from the fact that you can make so much with cherries. Since this variety is sweet, you can pair it with tart flavors like lemons. You won’t need to spend too much of your time tending to the Skeena cherry tree, either. Skeena trees require little care to remain healthy for years to come. 

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