Canadian cherry cultivar wins top award -

Canadian cherry cultivar wins top award

Canadian cherry cultivar wins top award

Canada's Sweetheart cherry scooped the cultivar of the year award at the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) conference last week.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, said the government was proud to support research and innovation in cherry breeding at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)'s Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre (PARC).

"Cultivars developed by AAFC breeding programs have allowed growers to gain a top-notch reputation in the world marketplace as producers of high-quality crops. This boost to the cherry industry has helped stimulate and diversify job creation, benefiting our overall economy."

The Sweetheart cherry cultivar originated from a cross between Van and Newstar cultivars made in 1975, developed by retired AAFC researcher Dr Lane and his team.

Officially released in 1994, Sweetheart has been an important parent in the breeding program leading to a number of new cherry varieties such as Staccato, Sentennial and Sovereign.

PARC cherry breeder Dr  Cheryl Hampson, said the cultivars released from the program had "made a lasting impact" on the cherry industry worldwide  as well as  British Columbia.

Late maturing Sweetheart cherries have helped British Columbia's sweet cherry industry capture valuable market share at the end of the season, when the other cherry varieties have finished.

The Sweetheart cherry is on average picked about Jul. 30 in Summerland, British Columbia but this year is running a week behind schedule. Canadian sweet cherry exports reached a record 7,087 MT  in 2011; a 36% increase from 2010.

The U.S. imported 2,968MT of Canadian sweet cherries in 2011, approximately 29% of all Canadian sweet cherry production that year.

In 2011, exports to Hong Kong doubled and Taiwan was up 57%, however, China remains an untapped market as Canadian fresh cherries are yet to gain access there.

The United Arab Emirates is a potential growth market with 56MT exported in 2011 compared with no exports in 2008.

Photo: BFC Growers

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