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Morello Cherry Pruning

Hello everyone. We planted this Morello cherry tree about 4yrs ago and it's never yet been pruned. It's reached a stage now where it clearly needs it as it's really become quite unwieldly. Internet searches however have yielded completely contradictory advice about when to prune, how to prune and how heavily. The only consistent advice I've found is to sterilise any tools before starting.

We'd be really grateful for any sage advice about when and how to prune. It's grown more for its blossom than the fruit and besides, cherry flies unfortunately tend to get to the fruit long before we do.

With huge thanks in advance 🙂



  • bertrand-mabelbertrand-mabel Posts: 2,528
    Not sure what you mean by cherry flies.
    We have a morello and it is about 5 years old. It is in the ground. We don't prune it as this is the only cherry that the birds don't eat the fruit!!!
  • pinutpinut Posts: 182
    The tiny flies are fruit flies.

    I've got Morello cherry trees and they too are afflicted with them but only when the fruit are over ripe.

    So, as soon as you see the first ripe cherry, you will have a time window of about seven days in which to pick all of the cherries before they come buzzing in.

    Regarding pruning - it appears that the tree is a twin trunk from this angle so this is how I would structurally prune it:

    Structurally prune between March and April just after the blooms fade and the leaf buds are about to break.

    Imagine the shapes in your mind and prune to it.

    -Then remove dead and dying branches.
    -Remove inward growing branches.
    -Remove crossing branches.
    -Remove branches that point upwards, say, greater than 45 degrees against the horizontal - the idea here is to utilise the weight of the fruit to bend the branches lower down for easier picking.
    -Remove sucker branches that grow out from the rootstock (or make use of them by trying your hand at grafting - this needs to be done around mid February).

    Mantenance prune in summer after fruiting.

    -Remove upward pointing branches. These will become potential leader branches if left to grow unchecked.
    -Remove the tips if branches become too long or if a branch is too bare and you want to force bud back.

    Don't worry if you make a mistake as a healthy cherry tree is very vigorus and new branches will grow back quite readily.

  • Pinut - wow, thank you for your incredibly helpful reply! 

    We did some research and discovered the fruit is being attacked by a specific pest (unimaginatively) called a cherry fruit fly. Sadly it targets the fruit way before it's ripe (they can be nabbed even while they're still green) so unless prepared to douse the tree in pesticides every year, which we're not, it's just something we'll have to live with. As mentioned, we planted it for the blossom rather than the fruit so no great loss... extra food for the birds!

    Thanks again 🙂
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