The homeland of the sand cherry is North America, where it is called sand cherry (sand cherry). Here in its eastern part, from Quebec and Newfoundland, and further south, grows sand cherry (WITHerasus pumila) - eastern sand cherry, and in its western part in Manitoba, Minnesota, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah a variation of low sand cherry grows - Bessei cherry(WITHerasus besseyi) - western sand cherry. Now they are recognized as one species - Bessey cherry, but they have their own characteristics.
Low sandy cherry grows wildly on sandy soils along the banks of rivers and lakes. A lot of it is found along the shores of the Great Lakes on the sand dunes. It grows in a bush 1–1.5 m high, erect in youth, in old age with open branches. Shoots are thin, glabrous, reddish. The leaves are obverse-lanceolate, pointed, up to 5 cm long, dark green above, light whitish below, painted in bright orange-red tones in autumn. Blooms profusely, within 18-23 days, flowers are white, fragrant, up to 1.8 cm in diameter, 2-3 in bunches. Fruits are purple-black, spherical, up to 1 cm in diameter.It grows quickly, light-requiring, winter-hardy enough, drought-resistant, undemanding to the soil. The fruits are edible, but very tart. Decorative throughout the growing season. Introduced into culture in 1756. Due to the strong astringent taste of the fruit, it is very widespread only as an ornamental plant, for wind protection, attracting songbirds and as a medicinal crop. Although recently, varieties of this cherry have been obtained with good taste, for example, the Katskipp variety, which grows well on calcareous soils.
At the end of the 19th century in North America, another type of sand cherry was described by Charles Bessie, a professor of botany at the University of Nebraska, named after this scientist. Cerasus besseyi... At present, botanists-taxonomists, the Bessei cherry is recognized as a variety of low sandy cherry and is called Microcerasus pumila var. besseyi.
Under natural conditions, Bessei's cherry grows on the prairies (steppes), on different types of soils. It grows as a bush up to 1.2 m high with a spreading crown. Shoots glabrous, reddish. The leaves are graceful, oblong, dense, 6 cm long, in autumn they are painted in bright red tones. It blooms for 15–20 days, profusely, white flowers, up to 1.5 cm in diameter. Fruits are purple-black or black, spherical, up to 1.5 cm in diameter, less tart and more edible than low sandy cherries. It grows quickly, photophilous, highly frost-hardy and winter-hardy, with good ripening of the shoots, it can withstand frosts down to -50 ° C, drought-resistant, undemanding to the soil. Decorative, like low sand cherry, during the entire growing season.
In connection with the more edible and larger fruits, and most importantly, with a very high frost resistance and winter hardiness, American gardeners paid close attention to this cherry, since it was able to grow in regions with very harsh climatic conditions, where other stone fruit species simply unable to grow. The first American breeder to begin extensive work with Bessey's sand cherry was prof. Niels Hansen, who worked at the Great Plains Agricultural Experiment Station in Brookings, South Dakota. Here he grew several generations of sandy Bessey cherries and made the first selection of forms with large, good-tasting fruits. One of these forms in 1910 became the first variety of Hansen Bush Cherry. Currently, many varieties of Bessei sand cherry have already been obtained in the United States. The most popular are the following: Black Beauty, Brooks, Elais, Golden Boy, Honeywood, Suu, South Dakota Ruby. In addition to its fairly widespread use as a fruit plant, now in the USA and Canada, this cherry is also widespread, like low sand cherry, for wind protection, decorative and medicinal purposes.
Low sand cherries and Besseys sand cherries are not real cherries. They, like some other cherries, such as felt, glandular and many more, are allocated in a special genus - micro cherries (Microcerasus). These cherries are close to plums, do not interbreed with real cherries and do not take root on them when grafted.On the other hand, they interbreed with each other, with plums, apricots, peaches and some other stone fruit species and take root when grafted on them.
Bessei sand cherries and low sand cherries were brought to Russia and the former Union at the beginning of the last century. At the same time, low sandy cherry has not become widespread and is now found only in the collections of botanical gardens. Bessey's sand cherry, on the other hand, attracted attention. I.V. Michurin. He also recommended it for use in protective plantings. Later, this cherry found wide application as a rootstock for a number of stone fruit plants, as well as for direct cultivation in some areas of the Urals and Siberia with harsh climatic conditions. It was widely used by many other Soviet breeders.
I first got acquainted with the description of sandy cherries Bessey in the works of I.V. Michurin at the end of the 40s of the last century, and I had to contemplate its first fruits a few years later, in the early 50s, at the city gardening exhibition in Sverdlovsk at the stand of the well-known experienced gardener I.D. Chistyakov. The fruits were about 3 g in weight, very tart in taste and had a brown-black color. I persuaded Ivan Dmitrievich to give me five seeds in order to further use the seedlings grown from them as a rootstock for plums. Later, I received several of her seeds from the experienced gardener N.N. Somov, and then brought and sowed bones from Chelyabinsk, Omsk and other cities.
All the seeds obtained were used to grow seedlings, most of which were brought to fruiting. The taste of the fruits of these seedlings varied from weakly astringent to strongly astringent; not a single seedling with fruits without astringency was revealed. It was only at the end of the 70s of the last century that I obtained and tested selected and elite seedlings of sandy Bessea cherry with fruits of good taste without astringency, created by the breeder V.S. Putov at the Siberian Research Institute of Horticulture in Barnaul, but more on that later.
Further I want to tell in more detail what the sandy Bessea cherry is. True, at the end of the 70s I managed to get seeds of low sand cherry and grow seedlings from them, which were grown for five years, and then were removed from the garden. These seedlings of low sandy cherries managed to freeze three times, and once they froze to the level of snow, and the fruits appearing on them weighed only 1–1.5 g and were very tart. I simply did not have time to evaluate the decorative qualities of her bushes.
Sandy cherry Bessey, hereinafter I will call it Bessey cherry, grows in the garden under the conditions of culture in the form of a low spreading bush. The renewal of the bush occurs due to the overgrowth from the root collar. It begins to bloom and gives its first fruits in the second year after seed germination. The yield of young plants reaches 6-10 kg. Its branches are literally covered with fruits. Plants are prone to abundant annual fruiting. Fruits are small, on average about 2 g, very rarely up to 3 g, round, oval or oblong-rounded, black, brown or greenish-yellow in color, on a short, 1-1.5 cm, peduncle. The pulp is tender, greenish in color, sometimes with reddish-burgundy veins, sweet taste with subtle acid, often tart, astringent. Among seedlings, bushes with fruits without astringency, quite satisfactory and even good taste are very rare.
According to various sources, the fruits contain 14-23% dry matter, 6.1-12 sugars (oligosaccharides 0.22-5.2), acids - 0.3-1.2%, tannins and dyes - 0.25- 0.3%, ascorbic acid - 10-32 mg /%, polyphenols - 250-870 mg /%. In dry years, the content of sugars, ascorbic acid and polyphenols in fruits decreases.
The fruits do not crumble when fully ripe and, if they are not removed in time, they wither in a dry, sunny autumn. Taste in dried, slightly tart fruits without astringency - from good to very good. The fruits of ordinary seedlings can be used for making jam, jam, wine.
As mentioned above, Bessei cherry plants are distinguished by high potential frost resistance and winter hardiness. But, proceeding from its confinement to growth in steppe conditions, such frost resistance and winter hardiness can manifest itself only at increased sums of active temperatures of the growing season, typical for steppe and, to a lesser extent, for forest-steppe conditions. And the territory of the Sverdlovsk region includes mainly forest, forest taiga zones, and to a lesser extent - forest-steppe zone. Therefore, in our region, the aerial part of the Bessea cherry can withstand winter temperatures only up to -40 ° C. In severe winters, annual shoots freeze out, and often perennial branches that are above the snow cover. In dry, frosty winters with little snow, due to a lack of moisture reserves in the plant, this cherry shows damage to shoots and branches from drying out.
In the winter hardiness of the aboveground part, our Bessei cherry, according to my observations, is somewhat inferior to the steppe cherry and requires light cover with snow. However, the widespread cultivation of Bessei cherry in a number of regions of Siberia has shown that through numerous reseeding and selection it is possible to obtain its forms that are less demanding on summer heat, and more fully manifest the potential frost resistance and winter hardiness inherent in them. So, for example, the culture of Bessey cherry in the forest taiga Tomsk region has shown itself well. All forms of Bessei cherry are unstable in our country, although to a lesser extent than our plums, apricots, and felt cherries, are susceptible to this damage. When cultivating them, special measures should also be taken to protect against it. The root system of Bessei cherry has outstanding frost resistance, while it surpasses all other types of plum in frost resistance. Its roots can withstand a drop in soil temperature in the root zone down to -26 ° C without much damage.
Currently, American breeders have achieved the best results in breeding Bessei cherries, as I talked about at the beginning of this article. But the American varieties obtained have not been imported and tested here. Therefore, now nothing can be said how good these varieties are and how suitable they are for our conditions.
Of the Soviet breeders, V.S. Puts in the Research Institute of Horticulture of Siberia, where, from sowing seeds in 1973 from the selected sweet-fruited forms of V. Bessei, five elite forms were allocated to them - 14-29, 14-32a, 14-36, 14-36a, 14-40. Forms 14-29 and 14-40 have yellow-green fruits. Fruits of other forms have a dark, almost black color. The largest fruits, up to 4.7 g, have the form 14-36a, and the form 14-36 has a denser pulp. Fruits of all these forms have a good, without astringency and bitterness, sweet-sweet taste. Form 14-29, which has a raised bush shape, is called Pyramidal.
Forms with good taste of Bessei cherries were also obtained by M.A. Salomatov in the Central Siberian Botanical Garden in Novosibirsk; the same form was obtained by I.L. Baikalov in the city of Abakan in Khakassia. A.N. Miroleeva told me that in her nursery, as a result of reseeding, sweet-fruited forms were also obtained. I heard about obtaining sweet-fruited forms of Bessey cherry from many experienced gardeners. The main trouble lies in the fact that until his death, only V.S. Putov, as a result, only its sweet-fruited forms were tested in several gardens of the Sverdlovsk and other regions.As a result of such a test, a fairly reasonable conclusion can already be made about the suitability of their cultivation in our country. In my opinion, and I experienced in my garden all five of these forms of V.S. Putov, these forms have a slightly lower demand for heat, a slightly higher frost resistance and winter hardiness, and also a slightly higher resistance to heating.
I have also grown and selected a number of forms with good quality fruits from the seeds of these forms of sand cherry. Therefore, it seems to me that it is possible to successfully propagate Bessey cherries with seeds taken from sweet-fruited forms in the absence of forms with bitter and tart fruits in the garden. In this case, amateur gardeners make it much easier to acquire sweet-fruited forms of this cherry. Moreover, due to the late flowering and the departure of V. Bessei's flowers from frost, all of its sweet-fruited forms, in the absence of freezing and prying, have a very high and annual yield, and, consequently, a large number of seeds that can be used for sowing.
In addition to the five putov sweet-fruited forms of V. Bessei, V.N. Mezhensky on his website on the Internet also mentions the appearance of its Russian variety Chunya and the Ukrainian variety Sonechko with fruits weighing up to 3 g. But I still have no other more detailed information about these two varieties.
Taking into account the peculiarity of Bessei cherry, it is easy to cross with many types of stone fruit plants, it was very widely used in hybridization with various types of micro-cherries, plums, apricots, peaches, and almonds. The first breeder to obtain such hybrids was also the aforementioned Niels Hansen. He obtained numerous hybrids with different types of plums, called cherry plums, such as Opata, Charesota, Ovanki, Sansota, Etopa, Okiya, Sapa, Enopa, Oka, Toka, Yuksa and many others. The same hybrids were obtained by other American breeders, for example, Zumbra, Saint Anton, Cooper, Morden, Algoma, Dura. I will also name newer American and Canadian hybrids - Mainor, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Ipshlon, Kappa, Omega, Sigma, Zeta, Hiawatha, Sakagevi, Deep Purple and others.
A significant number of hybrids of Bessei cherry with plums were obtained by Soviet breeders N.N. Tikhonov, V.S. Putov and G.T. Kazmin - Novelty, Kroshka, Utah, Dessertnaya Far East, Yenisei, Gem, Zvezdochka, Amateur, Early dawn, Late dawn. From crossing the felt cherry with the Bessea cherry in Canada, a hybrid of Eileen was obtained. The same hybrids were obtained by the Soviet breeders G.T. Kazmin and V.P. Tsarenko - Peschano-Vostochnaya, Leto, Damanka, Caramelka, Alice, Vostochnaya, Natalie, Okeanskaya Virovskaya, Autumn Virovskaya, Fairy Tale, Dark Brown East and others.
In addition, many hybrids were obtained with the participation of Bessei's cherry with various stone fruit plants, which are used as clonal rootstocks for growing cultivars of different types of micro cherries, plums, apricots, peaches, almonds. The fact is that although the sand cherry itself serves as a good stock for these plant species, it also has such a major drawback as the poor anchoring of its roots. When using it as a rootstock, cases of overturning of already mature plants are possible.
Obtaining hybrids of Bessei cherry with different types of stone fruit plants specially for use as rootstocks was widely carried out both abroad and in our country. The breeders G.V. Eremin, A.N. Venyaminov, V.S. Putov, M.A. Matyunin. Thus, V.S. Putov selected SVG11-19, Novinka and Utah, which have a triploid set of chromosomes, from among cherry plum hybrids for plum rootstocks.The hybrids of Bessei cherry with luiseania (aflatunia) vyssolistny 140-1, 14104, 144-1 and others turned out to be very interesting as rootstocks for plum and apricot, some of them also have a triploid set of chromosomes.
My long-term observations of the forms of Bessei cherry, bred by V.S. Putov showed that in Yekaterinburg, it begins the growing season on average at the end of April, and flowering at the end of May. Fruit ripening occurs in the second half of August - early September. Leaf fall begins very late, and bushes often hibernate with leaves. All of these forms and seedlings of Bessei's cherry, grown by me at different times, turned out to be unstable to pre-warming and during the cultivation they were almost completely vomited several times (with the exception of one or two branches in the bush). True, after heating, they recovered very quickly (as if rejuvenating at the same time) and gave a high yield the next year after that. In the putov forms, the podbeating was observed less regularly. Twice in forms 14-32a and Pyramidalnaya, winter drying of several branches in the bush was observed even when it was covered with snow. For three years with a cold rainy summer, the fruits of the Pyramidalnaya and 14-29 forms did not have time to ripen. In the years with damp autumn, all forms showed significant self-seeding the next year.
All varieties, forms and seedlings of Bessei cherry are self-fertile and require planting of several bushes with a different genetic basis for their pollination. Bessey cherry pollen has a very high fertilizing capacity, and Bessey cherry can be used as a universal pollinator for all varieties, forms, seedlings of Bessea cherry, cherry plum and Canadian plum.
Bessei cherry bushes are formed as follows. In an annual sapling or seedling, they form a shoot from above by 5-10 cm. Further, the bush itself forms its crown due to shoots growing from the base of the root system and the base of the trunks. Fruiting occurs only on annual shoots that do not grow well on older branches. Therefore, old branches (over 4–5 years old) are periodically cut out and replaced with young shoots. Bessei's cherry does not give root growth far from the base of the bush. In rare cases, with the death of the entire above-ground part from podoprevaniya, or freezing and frosting, or trimming roots when digging the soil, offshoots from the roots may appear at a distance from the base of the bush. I want to note that the largest number of fruit buds is formed on shoots of medium length (15-50 cm). Therefore, to obtain high yields, bushes should be formed with the maximum number of shoots of medium length.
The experience of growing low and sandy sand cherries, Bessei cherries has shown that they are not very susceptible to the appearance of various diseases and the attack of various insect pests. However, in separate, very cold and rainy summer periods, leaf disease with perforated spotting - clasterosporium is often observed. Sometimes very strong. Moreover, to the south, in the steppe zone, this disease affects very little or is completely absent. They are struggling with timely early spring collection of affected shoots, collection and burying of fallen leaves, as well as early spring spraying with 2-3% ferrous sulfate solution. Further, the plants are sprayed at the beginning of loosening the buds with 1% Bordeaux mixture and again at the end of flowering with the same solution. In addition, the treatment of wounds with gum flow is carried out. Plants affected by this disease lose many leaves in summer, which leads to their weakening and poor wintering.
Bessei's cherry is easily propagated in different ways - by seeds (seeds), green and lignified cuttings, layering. Old bushes with significant freezing of the aboveground part, in addition to cuttings, can give a significant amount of growth, which can also be used for reproduction.Of particular note is the good germination of seeds sown immediately after harvesting or after a short two to three months of stratification. Bessei's cherry has a good growth of seedlings and good development of their root system already in the first year of the growing season.Bent and covered with soil, as well as vertical shoots of Bessey cherry covered with soil, root very easily and give layering, like currants. Bessei's cherry can reproduce very well and by all means of grafting on other plants of this cherry, on felt cherries, on cherry plums, on Ussuri, Chinese and Canadian plums, as well as on apricots and a number of other stone fruit plants.
Given the increased demand for Bessei cherry in our conditions, you should choose the most open sunny places for planting it. Of course, for better heat supply, it is better to have protection from the cold winds of the place where it is grown. From the same point of view, the best option for planting it is to land on the hills, and not in the landing pits. Since with our sums of active temperatures during the growing season, Bessei's cherry does not fully develop its potential frost resistance and winter hardiness, its bushes for protection for the winter should be covered with snow, poking it periodically when the height exceeds 50-60 cm with a thick pointed stake to prevent podperevaniya. Such hilling with snow also protects the branches of the crown from winter drying. Despite the low demands of the Bessea cherry on the soil, its best growth and fruiting is observed on sandy loam soils rich in humus.
From my point of view, the Bessei cherry, when grown in our country, is an interesting crop. When using sweet-fruited forms and varieties for culture and with their correct cultivation, you can get a very high yield of fruits of a peculiar good taste, suitable both for direct consumption and for all types of processing. At the same time, its dried fruits have a very high taste. Of course, the fruits of Bessei cherries of sweet forms and varieties are very different in taste from the fruits of ordinary and steppe cherries. But, nevertheless, the taste of their fruits seems to me quite pleasant.
Cherry Bessei in our conditions can be used as an ornamental shrub with narrow willow leaves, often with a bluish tinge. Its bushes are beautiful in the spring, during the abundant flowering of flowers on all annual shoots, are beautiful in the fall with ripe fruits that stick to the branches (cobs, like sea buckthorn), and after removing the fruits and coloring, although not annually, foliage. It is very interesting for decorative purposes to grow its hybrid with Pissard's cherry plum - cystene, obtained in 1910 by the American breeder Niels Hansen.
This hybrid has an intense red color of leaves, shoots and flowers, has a short stature, less than 1 m, and has the same frost and winter hardiness as the Bessei cherry. It is extremely widespread throughout the United States and Canada. It became widespread in Russia and in a number of other CIS countries. Recently, in the USA, a hybrid of plum with cystine Pearl Leaf Sand Cherry has been obtained, which has purple leaves, and has also already received recognition there.
As my many years of experience have shown, the use of Bessey cherry in our conditions as a fruit crop and rootstock, as well as in the form of hybrid cherry plums and clonal rootstocks created on its basis, has fully justified itself. I believe that amateur gardeners should try to grow in their garden plots and Bessei cherries of sweet varieties and forms, and its hybrids with felt cherries and various types of plums - cherry plums, and its hybrids, which are clonal rootstocks, and its various other hybrids.