Stemless Cherry Project Reaches Milestones, Launches New Web Site

PROSSER, Wash. — In order to remain competitive in the global market, the world’s biggest sweet cherry producers have banded together to drive innovation along the entire production chain. The molecules-to-market project, called “A total systems approach to developing a sustainable, stem-free sweet cherry production, processing and marketing system,” is just completing its first year of research.

The project has just launched a new web site,, which features research news, videos, photos and the 2010 annual report. The project’s goals include:

  • Developing high-efficiency, productive angled fruiting wall orchard systems;
  • Establishing the genetic bases for sweet cherry abscission;
  • Improving labor efficiency and safety by developing mechanical and/or mechanical assist harvest technologies;
  • Extending the shelf-life and increasing consumer appeal of sweet cherries;
  • Analyzing system profitability, market potential, and developing economic models for outreach and adoption.

Milestones reached in 2010 include:

  • Establishment of test orchards in California, Oregon and Washington;
  • Phenotyping of cherry cultivars and advanced breeding selections for pedicel-fruit retention force and fruit texture and flavor attributes;
  • Documented expression of known abscission genetic pathways in sweet cherry;
  • Field testing of an upgraded mechanical harvester and other mechanical-assistance equipment.

The four-year project is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Special Crop Research Initiative grant. Participating collaborators include Washington State University, Oregon State University, Michigan State University, the University of California, and Picker Technologies.