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
Crowd protesting GMOs stock image FEATURE
Farm Management
August 24, 2016
Swaying Views On GMO Foods No Easy Task
Featured speaker for the upcoming FFVA Annual Convention says tides are slowly turning in how people digest the concept of genetic modification. Read More
A subsurface microirrigation system.
(Photo credit: Peter Jacoby)
Grapes
August 23, 2016
Deeper Irrigation Method Showing Promise For Vineyards
A new subsurface irrigation system is showing promise for slashing water usage in vineyards. Many vineyards use drip lines that Read More
sprayer nozzles
Fruits
August 23, 2016
New Insecticides Geared To Give Growers Edge Over Pests
Check out three unique chemistries from several of the industry's leading crop protection suppliers. Read More
Prepping apples for cleaning, waxing, and sorting.
Apple Grower of the Year
August 22, 2016
Apple Crop Forecasts Live On Twitter
You'll be able to get up-to-the-minute reports of not only the various regions of the U.S., but key production regions around the world. Read More
Growers should remove unharvested cherries and destroy them to cut spotted wing drosophila populations, as Nikki Rothwell demonstrates with this golf cart.
Pest Control
August 21, 2016
Spotted Wing Drosophila: For Michigan, It’s A ‘Game-Changer’
Why the pest can be so much more destructive for Eastern cherry growers might be due to what they’re not farming. Read More
EGVM
Grapes
August 19, 2016
European Grapevine Moth Eradicated From California
Agricultural officials confirm eradication of invasive pest, lift quarantine restrictions. Read More
cracked earth
Fruits
August 19, 2016
Parts Of New York Now In Extreme Drought
Water deficits starting to cause concern for fire, water shortages in the Empire State. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
August 24, 2016
Meet Florida’s 2016 Woman Of The Year In…
Dedication to fostering the state’s farming future defines the latest winner of longtime honor. Read More
Berries
August 24, 2016
Researchers Unravel Genetic Ancestry Of …
A genetic analysis conducted by New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station researchers aims to improve modern cultivation efforts of strawberry growers. Read More
Fruits
August 24, 2016
Don’t Underestimate The Value Of P…
Sure, you can see and talk with virtually anyone in the world through your smart phone, but you can’t shake their hand. Read More
Farm Management
August 24, 2016
Swaying Views On GMO Foods No Easy Task
Featured speaker for the upcoming FFVA Annual Convention says tides are slowly turning in how people digest the concept of genetic modification. Read More
Fruits
August 23, 2016
New Insecticides Geared To Give Growers …
Check out three unique chemistries from several of the industry's leading crop protection suppliers. Read More
Fruits
August 19, 2016
Parts Of New York Now In Extreme Drought
Water deficits starting to cause concern for fire, water shortages in the Empire State. Read More
Citrus
August 19, 2016
Rough Winter In Store For Much Of The U.…
The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its competitor The Farmers’ Almanac predict the 2016-2017 winter will be cold for much of the country. Read More
Citrus
August 18, 2016
Trump Campaign Announces Agricultural Ad…
Just three of the 64 are directly involved with fruits and vegetables, all three are Californians. Read More
Fruits
August 16, 2016
Growers Optimistic Despite Drought
Growers say continued heat could cause early ripening, still expect season to progress as planned. Read More
Crop Protection
August 15, 2016
New Study Shows Neonicotinoids Pose Litt…
Washington State University researchers reveal the controversial pesticides aren’t dangerous for bees in the real world. Read More
Crop Protection
August 14, 2016
Improving Drought Resilience And Reducin…
Soil health experts gain ground on standardized measurements and identify future research needs. Read More
Citrus
August 12, 2016
Second Half Of Atlantic Hurricane Season…
After a relatively sluggish start to the campaign, revised forecast foresees increased tropical activity ahead. Read More
Equipment
August 11, 2016
New UTV To Hit The Market In January 201…
Yanmar enters the UTV market with two designs of its Bull Series. Read More
Citrus
August 10, 2016
Therapeutic Cannabis Culture Taking Off …
Another licensed nursery gets the go-ahead; makes deliveries to patients in need. Read More
Citrus
August 10, 2016
Protect Yourself From The Zika Virus [Op…
The University of Florida is on the front lines of the battle against mosquito-borne diseases. Read More
Citrus
August 9, 2016
Florida Farmers Need Not Sink Amid Algal…
In the wake of an algal bloom disaster, growers need to be prepared, proactive, and farm smart. There is much at stake. Read More
Citrus
August 9, 2016
Water Quality Win Streak Continues For S…
Despite record rainfall, producers in the Everglades Agricultural Area again exceed phosphorus reduction standards. Read More
Food Safety
August 8, 2016
Longtime Member Of UC-Davis Postharvest …
Dr. Trevor Suslow, who has been a member at the center for 20 years, is taking over for Elizabeth Mitcham. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]