Loaded sour cherry tree in back yard!Sour cherry tree in back yard.

Sour cherries are more common in the Midwest than sweet cherries. This is because sour cherries compared to sweet cherries are less susceptible to different pests, don’t require a pollinator (two varieties), and growers don’t have to worry about birds eating the ripe cherries before harvest. Although many sour cherries can self-pollinate, cross-pollination does occur and often improves taste and yield. Self-pollinating trees  are more common among home-growers, especially if they desire to own only one tree. There are two types of sour cherries. Amarelle cherries have yellow flesh and clear juice, while morello cherries have red flesh and red juice. Below are some common varieties of sour cherries.

Amarelle-type cherry (top) and Morello-type cherry (bottom)[photo: MSU Extension]Amarelle vs Morello cherries

Amarelle (yellow-fleshed with clear juice)

Early Richmond- a cherry that is small, round, and bright red. Tastes tart and acidic. Used for making jams, pies, jellies, and preserves. Early harvest.

Meteor- a cherry that is large with pale red skin. Flesh is mildly acidic. Late harvest.

Montmorency- a cherry that is medium to large, round, bright, and red-skinned. Mildly acidic and tart. Can be canned, but is considered to be the best cherry for pie. Early harvest.


Morello (red-fleshed with red juice)

English Morello- Large, tender, amd juicy with a deep red-black skin. Slightly tart. Freezes well and is an excellent choice for pie (contended only by Montmorency). Late harvest.

North Star- Bright red to mahogany skin with tart-juicy red flesh. Similar to Montmorency. Late harvest.



Harvest to Table – Descriptions of sour cherry varieties

Cherry_Varieties_for_the_Great_Lakes_and_Eastern_North_America – excellent PDF sheets with complete descriptions of all cherries that can be grown in Great Lakes zone.