MSU Closing In On High-Density Tart Cherries

Tart Cherries

The tart cherry orchard of the future may still be a few years away, but Michigan State University (MSU) researchers have moved a few steps closer to growing high-density tart cherries. In fruit growing regions around the world, horticultural innovations are rapidly impacting cherry industries and orchards. Namely, new dwarfing rootstocks have facilitated high-density sweet cherry orchards by instigating earlier initial and peak production than trees on standard rootstocks. These more intensive orchards also impact the efficiency of production, improve fruit quality, and are harvested more easily. With the success of high-density sweet cherry orchards, such concepts need to be investigated further for Michigan tart cherries.

Moving to high-density tart cherry production systems for fruit used in the processing market is easier said than done as several production components will require changes. The MSU team is concomitantly evaluating rootstocks, cultivars, tree spacing, irrigation, and fertilization strategies for this new system. Tree training and pruning strategies also will be developed to optimize yields without sacrificing fruit quality.

In spring 2010, we planted a high-density Montmorency block where we are evaluating the dwarfing, precocious Gisela rootstocks currently used by growers around the world for sweet cherry production. To gain a better understanding of Montmorency on dwarfing rootstocks planted at a high density, we planted Montmorency on its own roots, and also grafted it onto four commercial rootstocks: Gisela 3, Gisela 5, Gisela 6, and Mahaleb. All five rootstocks are being managed with two pruning systems: multiple leader bush and central leader axe.

This past spring, two more plantings were put in at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center (NWMHRC). The first planting is a new rootstock trial where we are looking at elite rootstock selections from the MSU germplasm bank. Dr. Amy Iezzoni has been breeding rootstocks for use in sweet cherry, and many growers were interested to see how they do under tart cherry. The NWMHRC Foundation purchased the trees in this trial as they thought evaluating these new rootstocks was critical to the success of our futuristic orchard. This planting also includes new Russian rootstocks from the Krymsk series. Growers and nurseries in the west have used Krymsk rootstocks for sweet cherries, but there is little information about these rootstocks under tart cherry.

 

Moving Forward

A second new planting of Montmorency-type tart cherry varieties was planted in early May. The new cultivar planting will include five elite selections from Iezzoni’s tart cherry breeding program. At this stage, these cherries still have numbers rather than names, but members of the Tart Cherry Advisory Committee can confirm that these fruits have promise for commercial marketing. Dr. Ron Perry has also been instrumental in bringing some of the tart cherries bred in Saskatchewan, Canada to Michigan. These fruits have names like Crimson Passion and Carmine Jewel. We hope to also obtain some of their newest releases, such as Cupid, Romeo, Juliet, and Valentine.

We have also been investigating different harvesting systems for this futuristic orchard. The primary goal of this research is to allow growers to harvest trees earlier than the five to seven years traditionally required for trees to mature enough to withstand trunk shaking. This earlier harvest would allow growers to receive an earlier return on their investment. Using high-density apples as a model, we would like to begin harvesting tart cherries at two or three years old rather than five to seven; therefore, if we continue to harvest cherries mechanically, we need a harvester that does not “shake” the trees. We have evaluated continuously moving harvesters in tart cherry that were designed for other crops, such as olives, citrus, grapes, and blueberries. Many of these machines look promising for use in a high-density tart cherry orchard.

With rootstock, cultivar, and high-density Montmorency trials in place, and by continuing to look at harvesting systems, we are poised to make some inroads into this new system. The MSU team working on this project includes Iezzoni, Perry, Greg Lang, Jim Flore, and Nikki Rothwell.

 

Tell Us What You Want

 The goal of the Michigan State University (MSU) tart cherry breeding program is to improve the profitability of the tart cherry industry by developing varieties that will help growers effectively address production and market-based fruit quality challenges. This is done by identifying individuals among MSU’s tart cherry seedlings and imported varieties that demonstrate potential as commercial varieties by evaluating selections for bloom and maturity dates, fruit quality, cherry leaf spot resistance, and performance of grafted trees at test sites.

Fortunately, RosBREED is there to help in this process. RosBREED is a nationwide collaborative research projective that was funded in 2009 by USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative to accelerate the delivery of new cultivars which have improved fruit flavor and texture. There are 12 U.S. Rosaceous breeding programs representing apple, sweet cherry, tart cherry, strawberry, and peach that are working toward this goal and are located in the top U.S. growing regions for these crops. RosBREED’s approach is to improve the efficiency and success of these breeding programs through the targeted use of diagnostic DNA tests. The power of diagnostic DNA tests will move selection from the orchard to the greenhouse. Therefore only seedlings predicted to be elite are planted in the orchard for further evaluation.

For more information on RosBREED, including recent grower surveys this winter, go to www.rosbreed.org.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “MSU Closing In On High-Density Tart Cherries

Fruits Stories
Apples & PearsMeet USApple’s Class of 2015 Young Apple Leaders
March 27, 2015
Young decision-makers see trip as an opportunity make sure the voice of the apple industry is heard by representatives. Read More
GrapesGlassy-Winged Sharpshooter Found In Marin County
March 26, 2015
This pest, known to spread Pierce’s Disease, could devastate California winegrapes. Read More
GrapesFirst Raisin Grape That Dries Naturally On Vine Developed
March 26, 2015
The new Sunpreme variety eliminates the need for growers to cut into woody canes before harvest. Read More
Fresh From Florida Strawberry Parfait recipe
BerriesNew Partnership Sends Florida Strawberries To Puerto Rico
March 26, 2015
Latest addition extends Sunshine State’s agricultural export reach in the Caribbean. Read More
drought management; irrigation; water management
FruitsHow To Become A Soil Sleuth
March 26, 2015
To correctly apply the proper nutrients at the right rates, you need to know where your fields are deficient and how to correctly diagnose a disorder. Read More
Cold ProtectionWind Machine, Electric Pruners Donated To MSU Research Center
March 25, 2015
New equipment to help protect research blocks from frost damage and provide center with latest technology. Read More
CitrusProposed Farm Bill Provision To Limit Payments To Non-Farmers
March 25, 2015
USDA has proposed a new rule which would limit payment to those who are only actively engaged in farming. Read More
The Latest
FruitsSounding Off On GMOs: The Arctic Apple Decision
March 27, 2015
Industry leaders share their feelings on the recently approved genetically modified apples. Read More
FruitsAhead Of The Curve, Part 2
March 27, 2015
Get educated with great resources in the tree fruit industry available at your fingertips. Read More
drought management; irrigation; water management
FruitsHow To Become A Soil Sleuth
March 26, 2015
To correctly apply the proper nutrients at the right rates, you need to know where your fields are deficient and how to correctly diagnose a disorder. Read More
Cold ProtectionWind Machine, Electric Pruners Donated To MSU Research …
March 25, 2015
New equipment to help protect research blocks from frost damage and provide center with latest technology. Read More
CitrusProposed Farm Bill Provision To Limit Payments To Non-F…
March 25, 2015
USDA has proposed a new rule which would limit payment to those who are only actively engaged in farming. Read More
FruitsHow To Get Started With Partnerships And Sponsorships
March 25, 2015
Mark Saunders of Saunders Farm says your business is never too small or too big to get more value for what you do on your farm. Read More
FruitsValue Through Partnerships And Sponsorships [Opinion]
March 25, 2015
Mark Saunders of Saunders Farms says admission is one way to get value for what you do, but sponsorships and partnerships are the next level. Read More
FruitsWorld Ag Expo 2015: New Tools For Fruit Growers
March 24, 2015
From wind machines to solar-powered pumps, here is some of the new equipment on display this year's edition of the nation's largest farm show. Read More
FruitsRare Leafhopper Found In Shipment At Delaware Port
March 24, 2015
This is the second time this pest has been discovered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists. Read More
FruitsNew Pome, Citrus Thinning Tool Approved
March 24, 2015
Refine plant growth regulator receives federal registration. Read More
CitrusFarm Bureau Says WOTUS Rule Would Ignore Exemptions
March 24, 2015
Common farming practices may be vulnerable to Clean Water Act enforcement under the rule. Read More
FruitsUC-Davis Seed Biotech Center Receives Funds For Continu…
March 24, 2015
The university received $500,000 in funds toward a $2.5 million goal from seed company Limagrain. Read More
FruitsTips For Pear Psylla Management
March 24, 2015
Dormant oil applications should start as growers begin to experience warmer, mild weather. Read More
FruitsBiocontrols Event Draws Rave Reviews
March 23, 2015
Conference devoted to discussion of biological means to control pests and diseases held last month in Fresno, CA. Read More
brown marmorated stink bug dog search team
FruitsUSDA Uses Man’s Best Friend To Track Stink Bug
March 23, 2015
It's all paws on deck to find brown marmorated stink bug's overwintering sites. Read More
CitrusCalifornia Unveils $1 Billion Drought Package
March 23, 2015
Governor, legislative leaders, announce $1 billion emergency drought legislation. Read More
CitrusFeed A Bee Campaign Aims To Plant 50 Million Flowers
March 23, 2015
Bayer CropScience announces program to increase forage opportunities for critical pollinators. Read More
Florida organic strawberry research
FruitsParry America Aims To Boost Biopesticide Business Via S…
March 19, 2015
Brian Dockery tapped to drive growth of company’s specialty crop sector. Read More