The Cherries are Falling Off – Is My Fruit Tree Sick?

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 happens…

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 obvious 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”.June Fruit Drop on Cherry Tree 2013

Normal fruit drop happens to many fruit trees including peach, plum, cherry and apple. 

The larger fruit producing trees need additional human help in thinning their fruit.

But for now, we’ll keep it focused on young cherry trees in containers. Cherry trees do not usually need this added human intervention.

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

Why Do Cherries Drop?

Some cherry trees do not drop any fruit and seems to be a minimal problem for some, but if yours is dropping some of its fruit not to worry.

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 young 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 mature more healthily 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.

If All the Cherries DropRainier Cherries 2013

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. These remaining fruit will share the resources of the tree more efficiently.

Leave a comment if you wish. Share your stories and help others. Are you already growing cherry trees in containers?

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One thought on “The Cherries are Falling Off – Is My Fruit Tree Sick?

  1. jim kemp

    June 13, 2017 at 6:57am

    i have same problem as many of above, cherries turning brown and shriveling up. I also notice ants running along leaves?? tree is 3/4 years old sitting next to apple tree, we have sprayed with a fungus fighter but to no avail!!

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    • Stacy

      June 22, 2017 at 7:54am

      First, watch what the ants are doing and see where they are walking. They might be farming aphids. The aphids cluster together and suck the sap from your tree and in doing so they produce a sticky honeydew that attracts/feeds the ants. In exchange, the ants then protect the aphids and your tree begins to suffer.

      Does the tree have visible evidence of any fungus or mold?

      For the ants, the best bet is to first trim all the branches that are touching other trees, fences or walls. Make it so the ants have only the trunk of the tree to walk up.
      Then use the product called Tanglefoot to trap them on the way up. There is information, links and instructions here on how to use and apply Tanglefoot properly.

      Once the ants are gone then the aphids will be exposed to other natural predators like lacewings, and ladybugs.

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  2. Carmen Froment

    June 12, 2017 at 5:08pm

    We live in Kelowna, BC. and have 2 cherry trees: 1 staccato and 1 lapin, both about 7 years old, they were pruned in Feb. We have been giving them some fruit fertilizer for the past 2 years. The trees flower abundantly and form fruit but as soon as they begin turning red, they shrivel and fall off. We are left with a hand full of good fruit from both trees. They trees have no aphid (at present) and when they do I use the Safer Soap. I read many of your comments and wonder if there is something else to do? Do discouraging to see repeat loss of fruit, year after year, yet the trees look healthy and strong (about 10 feet tall)

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    • Stacy

      June 22, 2017 at 7:24am

      I’m thinking it might be a pollination/weather issue. Did you happen to notice how many bees and other pollinators were around in the early spring? How was the weather?

      If the weather was unusually cold or bad at the time then the flowers wouldn’t have set properly and the bees would’ve been less active as well. If the weather was unusually dry at the time of fruit set then they will fail and fall off as well.

      Doing a soil test won’t hurt either just to see where the pH is sitting.

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  3. Nicole

    June 1, 2017 at 1:02pm

    I just bought a property with 2 Stella cherry trees about 30 feet apart. One is absolutely full of cherries but the other has dropped 99% of the fruit. The cherries dried up on the tree and are dropping off how. The tree butts up against my neighbors patio which is covered in pavers. We can test the soil and add compost but do you have any other thoughts or suggestions?

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    • Stacy

      June 9, 2017 at 4:21pm

      Are the trees large? Or do you know how old they are? The tree may be lacking in nutrients or is stressed out. I doubt that pollination is the issue since the other tree has lots of fruit. Doing a soil test would provide some good information about the composition and acidity of the soil etc.

      Also, look closely at it and see if there is any evidence of insects or bugs causing trauma to the tree. After that, you may consider removing the tree and putting in a new one.

      Has the ground area around the tree been covered with landscape fabric by any chance? Landscape fabric blocks the nutrients from getting down to the roots.

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  4. Lucy

    May 28, 2017 at 5:12pm

    Hi There,

    I bought a tree that was grafted and for the last 3 years and every year it blossoms and gets cherries. But it doesn’t ever get to fully mature. They all turn yellow then brown then fall off. My tree looks really healthy and blossoms beautifully. It’s driving me crazy because I don’t know what’s going on.

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    • Stacy

      June 1, 2017 at 9:03am

      Has it done that for the whole lifespan of the tree? I mean, is the tree 3 years old or has this happened just in the last 3 years?
      Do you happen to know what variety of cherry tree you have? It sounds like a lack of pollination if all of the fruit is falling off. Do you notice a lot of bees around?

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    • Hubrid

      December 6, 2017 at 6:47am

      Mine do the same. Look healthy, blossom, form fruit, then fruit starts shrinking, Browning and only few cherries survive. I think I’ve had it. I love trees, but this is ridiculous…ive waited until they became dormant, so I don’t have to cut live tree. I will have to kill them in their sleep though. Best I can do for them. 8 years…

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      • Author


        January 5, 2018 at 1:28pm

        It’s likely that the trees have a recurring virus. Sometimes the only choice is to start over with fresh plant stock.

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  5. Nancy

    May 5, 2017 at 10:14am

    Hi there. I have a 10 foot Stella Cherry tree It’s about 3/4 years old. The first year I had about 2 kilos of cherries. The next year it went quieter. The third year the initial flowering and green cherries blossomed well but the majority of the crop fell when green. This year again the tree blossomed very nicely and had a tree full of Green cherries but sadly a lot of them shed. It’s been pretty windy and the weather seemed to have turned as well. The cherries that have fallen are all ice and green. None of them is brown. I’m sad. Do you think it could be because of the weather turning cold and windy. Is there anything I can do to have a better crop. The cherries are unbelievably sweet and red. Please help. I live in London UK.

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    • Stacy

      May 6, 2017 at 7:52am

      That’s so disappointing! Losing a crop is heartbreaking when you already know how good the cherries taste!

      It kind of sounds like nutrient deficiency that’s getting worse over the years. Have you given the tree any fertilizer or food?
      The weather turning would have a big impact too. If the tree is cold shocked at the time the flowers are supposed to set, then the fruit will drop off sometimes up to 90% of the crop will fail.

      Also, if the previous fall has been abnormally cold and wet, then the tree will have a tougher time setting fruit in the spring. The tree uses its energy reserves from the previous fall to support the fruit growth before the leaves can supply sufficient resources. If there isn’t enough the fruit falls.

      I would start giving the tree nutrients/fertilizer to support root and fruit growth, organic products if possible.
      Another step would be to test the soil around the tree and see if it’s sitting at the right pH level for the Stella. It should be 6.5 – 6.7

      I hope next years crop is better!

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  6. Henry

    April 18, 2017 at 10:54am

    This is very informative and great! My cherry trees as I have been seeing them have been dropping lots of the cherries and it is starting to worry me. But as you were saying about how some cherries will fall off, I will see what happens, thank you for writing such a great article.

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    • Stacy

      April 22, 2017 at 8:53am

      You’re most welcome! I’m glad the article helped. The cherries should stop falling soon. Let me know how it goes.

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  7. Sophie Robison

    July 22, 2016 at 6:01am

    We are currently trying to treat our tree for aphids. This year it did produce fruit but it is turning brown before they are ripe and falling off the tree. Is this a result of the tree being infected? Suggestions on treating it for aphids?

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    • Stacy

      July 25, 2016 at 5:01am

      It’s very possible that the cherries are falling off because of the stress that the tree is under with the aphid problem. Is it a large tree?

      There are a number of options out there to attack the aphid problem. You can make a spray of dish soap and water and soak the tree down with that. You can also do the same thing with Neem oil. These treatments also harm beneficial insects so it’s best to do this in the evening when the insect activity is low.

      You can also make a mixture of essential oils and water. Then soak the tree down with that. Use about 4 drops of each peppermint, thyme, rosemary and clove oils. This will kill the aphids and their eggs. Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

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  8. Phil Hill

    July 9, 2016 at 3:41am

    My cherry tree for the last three years has failed to produce a mature crop.It.has a lot of blossom and forms fruits but they fall of before maturing. Prior to this it was a very productive tree. If it is a disease what can be done to cure it?

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    • Stacy

      July 10, 2016 at 8:15am

      Is the tree losing 100% of the immature cherries? On the cherries that are falling off, are they turning black at all?
      If they are turning black and falling off, then it would likely be some type of fungal infection. Is it a large/old tree?
      For a fungal issue, the dormant oil spray treatment in the winter will help kill the fungus. This can only be done when there are no buds or foliage on the tree at all.

      If the tree loses only some of the immature fruit (up to 30%) this is normal. Has the tree been pruned recently? If it’s big and hasn’t been pruned then the tree would struggle to support all the young fruit and drop a lot of it.

      Fertilising it will help too, if you aren’t doing that already. Give it good quality fruit tree fertiliser including the “trace elements” and you should see a healthier tree next season. Let me know how it goes.

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  9. john cooke

    June 18, 2016 at 9:04am

    I have three cherry trees. one is 3 years old and 8 feet tall, the other two are 1 year old 3 feet tall. the problem is they all blossomed and formed cherries after several days they all went brown and dropped off!! Why?

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    • Stacy

      June 27, 2016 at 6:24am

      This sounds like it’s a fungal infection, like what some of my trees have.

      The trees you describe are very young to be sick and in that state, they likely already had the infection when you bought them. You can spray the tree with 3% hydrogen peroxide and it will kill most of the fungal spores. This is the standard stuff most of us already have at home but it’s cheap and easy to buy from the drugstore.

      Use a clean spray bottle and saturate the plant including the leaves both top and bottom. Apply this when rain is not expected. Then repeat this treatment once a week and the tree should be in much better shape by next season.

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      • john cooke

        July 14, 2016 at 5:34am

        dear stacy.

        Thank you for your comment, but i don’t think the trees have a fungal infection? there is no sign of any. The trees look v healthy and are growing well. just no cherries!!! what else could it be?

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        • Stacy

          July 16, 2016 at 7:50am

          That’s great, I’m glad it’s not a fungal problem! 🙂
          My next thought is lack of pollination. Does the tree make flowers and then no fruit? Or is it not making flowers at all?

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  10. Joe

    May 10, 2016 at 7:47pm

    Past 2 years my Queen Ann and Bing trees had massive amounts of flowers and the beginning of well formed cherries. Then they all turned limp and black withered into a dead clump. I live in Portland, OR. I have heard of a blight or something attacking the cherry crop. Is there anything I can do to save these trees ( 7-8 years old) or should they be destroyed and start over with new trees. Also leaf curl has devastated my Peach and Nectarine tree. The fruit on either tree is sparce.

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    • Stacy

      May 14, 2016 at 8:34am

      This problem is affecting one of my cherry trees as well, I haven’t figured out what the issue is yet. It’s so disheartening to see all the cherries shrivel up and fall off. It’s not blight as far I know, the indicators of that look different. As soon as I figure out what the problem is and hopefully the solution too, I’ll let you know. Worst case scenario would be to get rid of the sick trees and start over.

      For the peach and nectarine leaf curl, I recommend a copper fungicide spray. (Like this one) It will kill the fungus and prevent it from causing more damage next year. The tree will produce less fruit when it’s under stress, it should recover and have a better harvest after the treatment.

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      • Stacy

        May 16, 2016 at 1:04pm

        Ok, I’ve dug up some more specific info about the shrivelling up cherries. It looks like a type of fungal infection of the tree. Does your tree have sticky sap stuff coming out of the leaf spur? (the spot where the leaves attach to the tree). Mine doesn’t but it’s still dropped all of it’s immature fruit for 3 years in a row now. Both symptoms indicate a fungal problem.

        The treatment that was recommended to me is to use dormant oil spray, but that can only be used in the winter when there are no buds open. In the meantime the infection can be spread through the air to other trees.

        If you’re not overly attached to the trees then the best remedy is to destroy them and start over with fresh, healthy stock. If you are attached and they’re in containers and portable you have the option of moving the plant to a separate location away from the rest of the garden for treatment.

        If/when you buy new trees it’s important not to reuse the same container or soil for the new tree. Start with fresh soil and a clean container and everything should be good.
        Let me know how it goes!

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        • Hybrid

          December 6, 2017 at 7:03am

          Hi Stacy,
          What if I remove the trees, but I don’t have any different spot for new trees? They are not in containers, but in the ground. How can I treat the place to keep my new tree safe? Thanx!

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          • Author


            January 5, 2018 at 2:06pm

            In this case, it would be good to dig a really large hole for the new tree, dig it a good couple of feet larger around where the tree will be planted, or as big as you can if it’s in a small area. Then fill the hole with new, healthy soil. Pack it down well so the trunk flare still ends up planted at the natural soil surface after settling. Good luck!

    • Hybrid

      December 6, 2017 at 6:53am

      Oh my. I’m in Seattle and had identical issue! Lost a nectarine to curl and 2 cherries I have Bing and rainier do the same..and!!! They are same age. I’m cutting mine down, replacing with s9mething else and spraying like there’s no tomorrow…i feel your pain!

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      • Author


        January 5, 2018 at 1:35pm

        The climate can have a lot to do with the plants health as well. Seattle tends to be quite rainy, just like my area. Too much rain can cause issues like fungus, mildews and other problems that will in turn cause stress on the trees. The first thing to go when the plant is stressed and trying to save itself is the normal healthy fruit production.

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  11. James Bergman

    March 17, 2016 at 8:38am

    The cherry tree in my yard is kind of old and has started dropping more and more cherries every year. I assume the tree is getting sick and dying. Is there anything I can do to save it, or should I just have it removed?

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    • Stacy

      March 28, 2016 at 7:58am

      Yes, it’s quite possible that the tree has run out its life span. They usually start to fizzle out as 20 years of age approaches. Also, if the tree is growing in bad soil or if there is a lack of water then the tree will shed it’s fruit. Try to assess if the tree is under obvious stress. If you add selections of good quality fertilizers and trace elements to the surrounding soil throughout the year the tree should respond in a season or two.

      A second possibility is poor pollination. If there is a lack of this the tree will shed the immature fruit. It could be that the weather may have had an impact too. If there is cool weather or frost when the flowers are blooming, then the bees and other pollinators wouldn’t have been as active. The tree will shed it’s immature fruit at about 2cm in size if pollination is incomplete.

      If it’s a reasonably easy option for you to remove it and replant a healthy young tree in fresh soil, then this is sometimes recommended and easier than trying to heal an older tree.
      Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

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  12. Joy

    June 26, 2015 at 10:04pm

    I bought a cherry tree. Initially I got few cherries. But, after some day all cherry flowets are droped after 1-2days of blooming.
    Not sure what happen, rearly a cherry stay till full growth.
    Could you please help me to make it better?
    My plant is healthy and blooming regularly.
    Please help.
    Thanks in advance.

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    • Stacy

      June 29, 2015 at 7:29am

      There are a few circumstances that can cause the tree to do that.
      Do you happen to remember what variety of cherry tree you bought? You may have a variety that needs a second cherry tree nearby (for cross pollination) in order to set fruit.
      What kind of container do you have it growing in? or is it planted in the ground?

      It sounds like either a lack of pollination or lack of nutrients and trace elements in the soil (or both). Do you fertilize the tree with anything?
      Do you have a lot of bees around? If not, that could be part of the problem. You can set up a mason bee house to invite more bees to your garden.

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      • Joy

        June 29, 2015 at 11:36am

        Thanks for this reply.
        Actually, I am not sure about variety. After I bought the plant very few stayed in the tree. I put it in a clay pot, and seems plant is healthy. Please let me know how I can add some more nutrition to the plant?
        Or how to identify verity?
        Also, let me know how I can identify the exact problem what it is?

        Thank you again.

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        • Stacy

          July 12, 2015 at 6:54am

          I like to use organic fertilizers of various types. Fish and seaweed fertilizer is a good one and comes in liquid form, it’s very stinky but the plants love it!
          I’ve also used Myke’s brand Mycorrhizae products which are about as natural as it gets.

          To identify your cherry tree use this tree identifier tool

          Depending on what kind it is you may need a second tree of another variety for good pollination. The tree needs a year or two to really absorb the increased nutrients and care you’re giving it. Give it a large pot, good soil, lots of nutrients, water and love and you should begin to see a turn around in your tree.

          If after that it still doesn’t do well, then you might consider replacing it with a new one altogether.

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  13. Chrissie Jenn

    June 19, 2015 at 2:42am

    Hi there. I have a container cherry tree that is dropping too much for a second year. Last year I only had a pound of fruit, and I don’t think this year is going to be any better.

    The tree looks healthy,except that I am treating black fly o. The the new shoots. The tree is 10-12 years old and about 12ft high in a large container. I wondered if not being in the ground is the problem, or is it the black fly?

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    • Stacy

      June 22, 2015 at 1:05pm

      It sounds like the tree might be under stress and over time it would attract the black fly. Stress would cause lower production also. Being planted in the confines of a container can cause this to happen.

      For your tree, my first thought is nutrients or lack of them, does the tree get fertilizer on a regular basis? Have you ever given it “trace elements”. The container obviously prevents the roots from finding their own nutrients.

      After that length of time in a container it becomes harder and harder to keep the right balance of nutrients in the soil. I recommend buying some good organic fertilizers as well as fish and/or seaweed fertilizer. Using trace elements will help too.

      This should help your tree do better next year.

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      • Chrissie Jenn

        June 24, 2015 at 11:22am

        Hi thanks for for yours reply.I have fertilized my tree, but not given it trace elements. I obviously need to read up on this. I had thought that maybe I would be better off planting it in the ground in the autumn now its so big.

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        • Stacy

          June 29, 2015 at 6:08am

          Hi Chrissie

          If you have a spot (and some help) then planting the tree in the ground will allow the roots to grow and find its own nutrients in the natural soil, but also a larger container with some fresh bagged soil and well chosen fertilizers will also work too.

          The trace elements will help the tree get the numerous micronutrients that are often and easily overlooked, you can buy some here.

          Depending on your location and the severity of your winter season, it might be better to transplant the tree in the spring so the tree has the most possible time to get established to its new environment before the stress of winter hits it.

          Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

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          • Chrissie Jenn

            August 4, 2015 at 12:52pm

            I think I’ll move it in early spring then. Naughty nappies got the last of the fruit.The link for the nutrients show they are unavailable at this time ,so I shall trying, and will let you know how it goes. Many thanks

          • Stacy

            August 5, 2015 at 8:21pm

            I think that’s best too, your tree will do better too with the extended settling time. The nutrients are likely a seasonal item, they should become available again soon. You’re most welcome, I hope it goes well!

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