In the Highveld region sunny winters create sunburn, and ultimately, bacterial canker problems. This can be prevented by choosing a site with afternoon shade, created by a wall, larger trees etc. If this is not possible, tripod shadenet structures can be placed on the north-west side of each tree. These are made with three small poles and 50% shade net, 1,5m high. The structures can initially be close to each tree, and moved further away as branching begins. Space trees about 3-5m in the row, by 5-6m between rows. Mix varieties for cross-pollination. Have a pollinator every 2nd to every 5th tree. Dig big holes, at least 0,5 x 0,5m. Loosen bottom and sides of hole with fork. Mix soil from hole with equal amount of compost, and incorporate bone meal (or supersulphate) and potassium. Do not apply any nitrogen.
During the growing season kraal manure can be placed loosely around the hole which will release nutrients downwards slowly throughout the rainy season. Plant the tree with about 10cm of rootstock above the soil level. The soil being thrown back in the hole should be loose, free of clods, and well mixed with compost.
Quite a lot of soil will have to be thrown in before the tree is placed, to elevate it to the correct depth. Water well, and cover with loose soil, to prevent crusting and cracking, 2 days after watering. A mulch, of grass, compost or any plant material around the hole must be applied at this stage.
During the winter moisture is retained well in the soil – just make sure it is moist. In spring and summer, water according to rainfall patterns, as you would the rest of your garden. With the use of manure, it is not necessary to fertilise at all. Manure, as a dressing around the hole will ensure sufficient nutrient supply, applied only in the summer months. Head trees back to 650mm from ground after planting. Use a bamboo stake to support. Make sure the stake is not up against the tree, and tie with a loose stocking or stretch tape so as not to ring-bark the stem. During the growing season, select 2-3 leader branches which will grow upwards. Remove all lower branches. In the second year, lateral branches will develop on the leaders. Ensure these do not become stronger than the leaders by cutting back in the summer when they look threatening. Only control ones that become strong.
Usually a cluster of branches develops at the tips of the leaders. These must be cut back, leaving only the strongest single upright branch. The lateral branches on the leaders will in time develop spurs, which bear fruit
Very little spraying is necessary. Copper Oxychloride must be sprayed on the entire tree, including the stem, at 75% leaf drop (May), mid winter (July), and at budswell (Aug). Mix 500g per 100 litres of water. This is a preventative measure for bacterial canker (Pseudomonas). Do not spray this on green leaves, only on dormant trees.
Cherry slugs appear on leaves in the summer. These are insect larvae, not real slugs. Spray when seen with a pyrethroid or chlorpyrifos. Scale insects can be controlled with endosulfan or mineral oil in the dormant season. Red spider mite in the late summer can be controlled with amitraz. Depending on your area, specific pests may occur. Beetles are easily removed by hand, rather than spraying. Contact your supplier for advice on symptoms one feels vague about. Cherries have fewer problems with mildews than apples. Bing is a mid-season dark red cultivar, ripening about the middle of November. It is well pollinated by Van and Sweet Ann. These are also dark red varieties, ripening at the same time as Bing.