The Utah giant cherry tree produces a fruit that is considered one of the best of the many sweet cherries. The fruits are large, firm and taste great. These gorgeous fruits are great for a number of uses, and they can be grown in a wide range of areas.
If you love these cherries and want a harvest of them, you need to know more about growing the Utah giant cherry tree and enjoying its attractive and delicious fruit.
History of the Utah Giant Cherry / Utah Giant Cherry Tree
The Utah Agricultural Experiment State, a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was the first to develop this large and prized fruit. Located in Logan, Utah, it all began in 1981 with a regular Bing cherry seedling. After much experimentation, a new variety of cherry was born.
Utah Giant Cherry Tree / Utah Giant Cherry Characteristics
This tree may sound like it’s huge, but it is a small to mid-sized tree that actually produces fruits that are huge. The Utah giant cherry tree grows to be about 12′ to 16′ feet tall and about the same width. This all size makes it perfect for backyard gardens.
When the fruit itself is mature, it is a dark red color, and the pulp is also red. The large size and sweet taste of the fruit have made it a favorite, and that is especially true in Utah where it is considered the very best sweet cherry. They are larger than many popular cherries, including Lambert and Bing cherries.
The fruit is a freestone variety, meaning that the flesh does not cling to the pit in the middle. This pit is smaller in this variety than it is with many other types of cherries. The fruit is also well-known for keeping its pretty color even when it has been processed. These Utah cherries ripen in May and into early June for a fun mid-season harvest.
The Utah giant cherry tree can be planted across the United States. Growing in zones from 5 through 9, they can be grown in all but the very coldest and very hottest portions of the U.S. From Central Florida into Michigan and from Texas to Washington state, these trees are extremely versatile and accepting of different climates. You can find out more in How to Grow the Utah Giant Cherry Tree.
Size and Spacing
This cherry tree can be anywhere from 12′ to 16′ tall, and they usually average anywhere from about 12′ to 15′ in width. The best practice for spacing is to place them about 15′ to 16′ apart. With such a diminutive size, this tree is often considered to be a semi-dwarf variety.
The Utah giant cherry tree does not self-pollinate and needs a pollination partner in order to grow fruit, and that partner has to be another sweet cherry variety. The trick is to choose a partner that blooms at the same time as this Utah favorite. There are a number of cherry trees that can be planted near them for this pollination, including Bing, Van and Rainier among others.
Utah Giant Cherry Tree Care
This cherry tree has a giant name but a small size, making it easier to fit it into a landscape. Growing several of these trees takes up relatively little space, and you can expect plenty of delicious cherries from them.
These trees require full sunlight for the best results. They will tolerate some shade, though, as long as they get six or more hours of sunlight every day.
The Utah giant cherry tree needs to be watered moderately. It doesn’t do well in drought, but it doesn’t need to be heavily watered. When you do water these trees, water them from at least 6″ away from the trunk to keep the trunk from getting too wet.
The tree should be regularly watered, especially if you get little rainfall, but the soil doesn’t have to be kept moist all the time. Your tree will need about 12 to 15 gallons of water every week during the growing season. You can help the soil to keep more moisture by putting a 3″ layer of mulch around the tree.
This cherry tree doesn’t need much in the way of pruning, and it doesn’t have to be pruned in order to have a bountiful harvest from it. Many people prune their cherry trees to keep them about 10′ tall. This makes it easier to harvest the fruit as well as to put a net over it to keep the birds away.
If the tree develops a disease on any branch, that branch should be removed right away no matter what time of year it is. You should also remove any branch that is broken or dead. Broken branches are highly susceptible to disease, and keeping disease away from the tree will keep it healthy and blooming.
For the main pruning that keeps the size of the tree under control, it should be pruned in the winter when there is no frost. If there are branches growing vertically, those should be removed. The ideal angle is about a 45-degree angle for the limbs. When you are pruning to keep the tree shorter, that should also include shortening the branches on the side.
Diseases & Care
While the Utah giant cherry tree is resistant to a lot of diseases, it is susceptible to a few. One of these is cherry leaf spot. This disease causes the leaves to develop purple spots on the top side, and they will turn to reddish-brown.
After about six weeks, those spots may get dried out enough to fall out, and this leaves the leaves full of holes. This has to be handled carefully and the affected areas pruned away with shears that you sanitize so that it doesn’t spread.
Another common disease is powdery mildew. This looks like powdery, light-colored patches to develop on young leaves. Older leaves are not as susceptible to it, so watch the new growth every year in case of these patches. Watering the tree too early in the year can lead to this condition developing.
The wind can also blow this fungus around until it reaches young leaves and infects them. Moisture and humidity are the catalysts for this disease, so better airflow and dry conditions can help to prevent it. Pruning can allow for better airflow and less moisture staying on the leaves and branches.
To find out more, see Utah Giant Cherry Diseases and Care.
Common Uses For the Utah Giant Cherry
This cherry is versatile and delightful in a wide number of dishes. It can be eaten fresh right off the tree, but it can also be used in a variety of dishes. It’s great for canning and keeps its flavor very well. It can also be used for a number of different baking projects.
You can use it to make preserves or add it to sweet sauces for more sweetness and a dash of its red color. You can also use it in baking such as make fresh bread or muffins. It can also be dehydrated for easy storage and convenient snacking.
The Utah giant cherry has a sweet taste that is sweeter than most other sweet cherries. It is important to eat the fruit that has ripened instead of trying to eat them a little early, or they could have a bitter flavor.
Health Benefits of the Utah Giant Cherry
Like many fruits, this cherry has a number of important vitamins and minerals along with its great taste. Sweet cherries have more fiber than sour cherries, and that is good for the digestive system.
Each cherry contains vitamin C, vitamin K, all of the B vitamins, copper, folate, vitamin A, iron, manganese and potassium, among other nutrients. Its antioxidants can fight the signs of aging, and its other vitamins and nutrients go into the healthy maintenance of many of the body’s systems. Eating cherries is almost like taking a multivitamin!
Where to Buy the Utah Giant Cherry Tree
Where to Buy the Utah Giant Cherries
This fruit is grown in so much of the United States that it can be found in supermarkets around the country. It’s also a staple at farmers’ markets and at specialty, healthy grocery stores.