New markets and varieties for Canadian cherry growers - FreshFruitPortal.com

New markets and varieties for Canadian cherry growers

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New markets and varieties for Canadian cherry growers

Although not quite ready for international buyers, six cold-weather cherry varieties in Canada are entering their first year of production, Canadian Cherry Producers President Bruce Hill said.

University of Saskatchewan cherries at the Village Orchard, Photo: Canadian Cherry

University of Saskatchewan cherries at the Village Orchard, Photo: Canadian Cherry

"The varieties will sustain themselves throughout the cold winter. And the diseases and pests that are normally sprayed for in orchards are not a problem here," Hill told www.freshfruitportal.com.

"Growing them here in the cold, hearty region, it has implications for around the world because they can be grown outside of traditional orchard areas. So far diseases have been limited. They don’t thrive in minus 35 degrees."

The sour, dwarf cherries, developed by University of Saskatchewan researchers, include the Carmine Jewel, Juliet, Romeo, Valentine, Crimson Passion and Cupid.

With calls arriving from Brazil and Europe, and the possibility of a cherry agreement with China, Hill said the varieties' main challenge now is keeping up with demand. The addition of a busy local market means international buyers have not yet come on the radar.

"We just won’t be able to supply [internationally]. If we put all of the fruit together in the province, we could probably supply the food brokers – like Sysco or Gordon Food Services – for two days. The volumes are tremendous in the food industry," Hill explained.

"In the initial stages, I don’t think people are looking at the international market as part of their marketing plan but it will move towards that."

For his farm's production in particular, Hill said they will be dehydrating the cherries to lower weight and increase shelf life for eventual markets abroad.

Among these markets is China, Hill said, where an agreement is currently is the works to import Canadian cherries for the first time.

Okanagan Kootenay Cherry Growers' Association Chairman Christine Dendy confirmed that talks with China are moving toward an agreement.

"We are in ongoing discussions with China and we hope that we will be able to come to an agreed protocol that they will accept Canadian fruit," she said.

"I think all parties are interested in coming to a mutually satisfactory agreement but there is no agreement at this point."

Cherry discussions between China and Canada have been marked by ups and downs, with disappointment last year when talks did not lead to an expected market opening.

For British Columbia in particular, Dendy said Taiwan and Hong Kong are currently the biggest export markets.

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