My Cherries are Falling Off – Is My Fruit Tree Sick? Backyard Food Growing

It’s almost June and summer is under way. The cherry blossoms have bloomed their dazzling spring beauty and are now almost gone. The immature cherries are just forming behind the flower petals as they blow away in the wind.

But then disaster starts to happen…

The newly formed, immature cherries start falling off your cherry tree and there are a lot of them that fall! It makes you wonder the question, is my fruit tree sick? The answer is probably not. It might be a natural occurrence. It really depends on how much of the total crop of cherries actually fall off.

If it’s 30% or less of the entire crop that’s on that tree, then what you are seeing is a natural thinning occurrence called “June Fruit Drop” or “June Drop”. Normal fruit drop happens to many fruit trees including peach, plum, cherry and apple.

If the tree loses more than 30% of the total crop then you could be seeing symptoms of a disease or bigger problem with the tree.

Why Do Cherries Drop?

Fruit drop happens for natural reasons to aid the health and strength of the tree. The biggest reason is that the tree has limited resources to nurture all of the growing fruit.

To accommodate this limitation on resources, the tree will reserve energy and naturally shed some of the unformed fruit to allow for a fewer number of cherries to stay on and grow larger.

The added benefits to the tree are improved air flow and increased sun exposure to each cherry. This also helps each piece of fruit to grow more perfectly.

What if all the cherries drop

In rare cases the cherry tree will drop ALL of its immature fruit. This is not a good thing and is an indicator of a diseased or a sick tree.

If you’re growing in a container, then it’s usually easiest to discard the entire tree and start again with a new healthy one from a good nursery. 

This complete fruit drop happened to one of my trees two years in a row, so I chose to remove the tree from the garden entirely rather than babysit a sick tree and risk the health of the rest.

If you have normal fruit drop you will see it thin out but most of the young fruit will stay on the tree. The remaining fruit will share the resources of the tree.

Leave a comment if you wish. Share your stories, are you already growing cherry trees in containers?

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