Growing Cherries – Crop Nutrition 101

What you need to know about cherry fertilization, best practices, and more

Crop Nutrition Information for Growing Cherries (Prunus avium):

  • Cherries ideal conditions include well-drained slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6-7, good fertility and 6-8 hours of sun a day

  • Pruning to allow for sunlight and airflow is important

  • moderate temperatures and moisture (not too hot or wet) helps maintain quality

  • higher pH soils (7-8) need iron

  • Gibberellic acid and calcium applications to improve fruit quality are common

Cherry Harvest

Key Nutrients:

While macronutrients (P, K, N) play an important role, Calcium is an essential micronutrient and key for high quality yields 


Nutrient Requirements:  

Nutrient balance is key to quality yields.  


N = 3 to 14.4 lbs per ton of fruit  

P = 1.5 lbs per ton of fruit  

K = 4.2 to 6 lbs per ton of fruit  

Mg = 0.2 to 0.4 lbs per ton of fruit  

Ca = 0.3 to 0.4 lbs per ton of fruit  


  • N demand in sweet cherry ranges between 10 to 14.4 lbs of N per ton of fruit (Geisseler, 2016, adapted from Fallahi et al. 1993, Silva and Rodriguez, 1995). 
  • Calcium uptake is maximized in the spring after full bloom, so Granular Polysulphate in the spring would be a good dry fertilizer choice along tree lines for yield and quality benefits.  
  • Calcium is part of the cell wall and key to cell wall strength. 
  • Calcium deficiency has been associated to fruit cracking and firmness in sweet cherry (Demarty et al., 1984, Christensen, 1996).  
  • Fruit with higher levels of Ca have reduced cuticle permeability (Christensen, 1996) and greater cell wall strength (Glenn and Poovaiah, 1989). 
  • Excess N and vegetative growth, shade, stress, etc can influence calcium movement into the fruit. 
  • If Ca levels in the leaf are deficient, fruit Ca will likely be deficient, but adequate Ca levels in the leaves, do not always imply adequate levels in the fruit (B. Sallato, WSU). 

Role of Nutrients:  

Cherry size, firmness, color, stem retention, brix (sugar) and shelf life/resistance to mechanical damage are important quality parameters that nutrition and irrigation influence. 


 See how different nutrients can influence your harvest. 

+ = improving 

– = decreasing 

+/- = different results, depending on the rate of nutrient applied 


Yield and Quality for nutrients at right rate: N++, P+, K++, Mg+, Ca++, S+ 


  • Good pruning practices help to balance crop load and determines where fruit is borne on the branch. The best quality fruit, in terms of size, sweetness and firmness result when leaf to fruit ratios are 5 to 6 and cherries are borne on axillary buds at the base of one year old shoots and young spurs, as opposed to older spurs (Murphey, 1988).

  • Yes, it enhanced fruit diameter, weight, sugar content and tissue iron content. 

  • Yes, it can reduce the soil pH in the root rhizosphere where nutrient uptake is occurring.

  • A balanced and multi-faceted crop nutrition program can help improve quality and yield. Fall and/or spring dry fertilizer along the tree lines in the orchard is recommended with fertigation through micro-sprinklers or drip irrigation during the growing season based on tissue and soil analysis. Foliar nutrients applied with pesticides can reduce application costs a complement your fertility program. 

Need expert advice on your plant nutrition plan?

Proven in Cherries


Exceptional natural multi-nutrient fertilizer

Polysulphate Granular


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A P-K foliar fertilizer, plus micronutrients, to help keep your finger on the pulse of N-fixation.

Nova PULSE (0-6-4 + Co, Mo, Zn)


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High purity, fully soluble Nova HiPeak is our most highly concentrated phosphorous and potassium fertilizer

Nova HiPeak® 0-44-44


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Agrolution pHLow

An advanced fertigation and pH management solution with an elevated potassium-to-nitrogen ratio and an extra boost of calcium

Agrolution pHLow High K Plus Ca 15-6-27 +3.3Ca with micros


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Premium phosphorus and potassium for plants in PeaK condition

Nova PeaK 0-52-34


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Agrolution pHLow

A high PK fertigation fertilizer with a boost of sulfur, designed for growers with soil and water pH challenges

Agrolution pHLow High PK 6-31-31 with micros


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Quick-working source of nitrogen and magnesium for strong growth

Nova Magnific 11-0-0+9.3Mg


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Get your plants off to a quick start with MagPhos

Nova MagPhos 0-55-18+4.21Mg


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A controlled-release fertilizer designed to deliver up to 4 months of nitrogen plus sulfur to high-value crops

Agrocote S 38-0-0 (3-4M)


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A 100% resin-coated potassium sulfate offers precision controlled-release for up to 2 months

Agrocote SOP 0-0-48 (1-2M)


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Agroblen Total

A controlled-release fertilizer provides a balanced supply of NPK plus S to deliver precision crop nutrition for up to six months

Agroblen Total Balanced 14-14-14 (5-6M)


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A unique blend of surfactants designed to move water and fertilizers more efficiently through soil

H2Flo Liquid Surfactant


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