Cherries Are Very Small


We have two cherry trees (do not know variety) but are 4-5 years, both trees have fruit all over this summer. However, the cherries were the size of small peas. Both trees are a good 8-10 ft tall, maybe taller and are planted on a slope for drainage. We live in the middle part of East TN.


We are asking for advice on how to increase the size of our cherries. Our cherries have pits inside them as well. We have not fertilize them at all, but the trees are watered. We have not sprayed the trees with any type of pesticides. Please advise as to what we should do. Thank you.




Here are some possible reasons for small fruit size on your cherry trees:

  • It's normal for the specific variety of cherry tree you are growing. It's not clear to me from your questions whether or not your trees have produced larger fruit in the past. Is it possible that your trees are Black Cherry trees? These Tennessee natives form pea-sized fruit in the late spring. Here is a link with some pictures: If these look like your trees, the size of the fruit is fixed and cannot be increased.

  • Inadequate or inappropriate pruning. Do you perform any regular maintenance pruning? Four-year old spurs and older tend to produce smaller fruits. Performing some occasional renewal pruning (removing the older spurs) can help improve fruit size.

  • Your trees are producing too many fruits for the size of their leaf area (i.e. the canopy/fruit ratio is unbalanced). This sometimes occurs in younger trees and usually balances out naturally as the trees age.

  • A lack of water during critical times in the growth cycle of the fruit. Adequate water is essential during the growth stages of the cherry fruit.

  • Heat stress. Cherry fruit grows in three separate phases. The first and third stages consist of rapid growth, whereas the second stage correlates to the pit hardening. The ultimate size of the fruit is determined by the first and third stages. Cooler temperatures extend the first and third growth phase and result in a larger fruit size. Hot temperatures shorten these important growth phases, result in smaller fruit, and accelerate ripening.

  • A general lack of vigor (which doesn't sound like your problem).

I hope this information helps!


About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.


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By BD (Guest Post)
July 2, 20080 found this helpful

It sounds like you might have Nanking cherry trees. If they bloomed in early spring with lots of pale pink flowers, this is probably what they are. Nanking cherries are naturally small and loved by birds especially, although they are good to eat for humans, too. You need both trees for cross pollination to get fruit. Sounds like you're doing everything right, but there's no way to make these cherries any larger if this is what they are.

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By CArol in PA (Guest Post)
July 3, 20080 found this helpful

It wouldnt hurt to try using some fertilizer. Compost, manure or any natural fertilizer is best. But fertilizer you buy in a bag will be quicker.

Fruit bearing bushes and trees require a LOT of water. Be sure you are giving them enough water.

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July 3, 20080 found this helpful

I'll bet you have Nanking cherries or Hansen's bush cherries. Our bushes get covered with them, just like clusters of grapes. I juice them and then make jelly using the cherry recipe in Sure-Jell or MCP pectin.


It's my most favorite of all the varieties I've ever tasted. It has just enough tartness and enough sweetness! Don't let the birds get them all, even if you have to throw a net over the bushes.

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