Cherries are a complex fruit, which means if your job is to inspect cherry quality – that’s complex too! They have an extremely short harvesting period, sometimes as little as five days. They have extremely sensitive edaphoclimatic requirements, so they can’t grow anywhere, and as a result, there’s a scarcity of the fruit as a whole. This makes it even more important to get it right quickly! But what does “getting it right” mean when it comes to cherries? Here’s what makes a cherry-lover cheerful, and some facts that will help you to inspect the quality of cherries far easier, too!
Thinking About Rootstocks for Cherry Quality
Unlike other fruits, most people don’t tend to have a favorite type of cherry. While you might find consumers who love a Pink Lady apple and would starve before reaching for a Golden Delicious, with cherries – there’s not that much variance in what you might consider a great bite. For stakeholders at the beginning of the supply chain, such as farmers and growers, this can make cultivating ‘perfect’ cherries easier, but they do need to make sure that they choose the right rootstock, as this will be questioned by everyone from wholesalers and marketing companies, through to retailers who know what they’re talking about when they look to inspect the quality of cherries that are being delivered.
Rootstock is part of good orchard management. You’ll ask yourself, how good is the soil, how much do I want to restrict the volume of my plant (for example for testing out new cherries) and how can I get the best quality yield that will resist adverse weather conditions? Calcium and growth regulators will improve the quality of cherries, but your rootstock is your foundation. More recently, new options are on the market for growers when thinking about rootstock, see the graphic below from the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.
Preferences in the Cherry Market
Chile is the world’s largest producer of cherries, and they are mostly sold in the Northern Hemisphere. When asked to envisage the perfect cherry, most people will conjure up the image of a dark red, plump and firm fruit, mostly sweet with a slightly acidic tang.
However, there are new cherries on the market that are shaking that image! One great example is Rainer cherries. These cherries have exceptionally high sugar levels, and grow on trees that grow between 9 and 11 meters. They have a thinner skin than more traditional varieties, and of course as you can see in the picture below, an unusual yellow or orange skin! In the case of this variety, a dark red skin would indicate they are overly mature, as only a slight red blushing is usual. This shows the importance of thinking about variety when you’re setting an automated quality control process for inspecting the quality of cherries in general.
The Bigger the Better?
One fact does seem to be clear no matter where you buy cherries, a large and heavy cherry is seen as preferable. In fact, the current entry in the Guinness World Record for the heaviest cherry is a jaw-dropping 23.92 grams!
If you’re looking for some ‘perfect cherry’ tips, the winner, Claudio Vergara commented that in his region, the Aysen region, you get very long days in the summer with a lot of sunlight. For parts of the season, the sun rises at 6am and doesn’t set until 10pm. “This means that the cherries have higher dry matter, and are bigger, sweeter and firmer” clearly what he believes to be the top 3 metrics to track if you’re serious about cherry quality.
Taking Perfect off the Table
At Clarifruit, we’re not looking to create the perfect cherry, or grape, nectarine, tomato, banana or anything else, because we know that doesn’t exist. The idea of the perfect produce will vary depending on where you are on the value chain, the country you’re working in, consumer tastes, and the use case of the fruit on the table, to name just a few considerations. Our customers also need to think about matching their produce to demand, and adding specific parameters depending on who their buyers might be, and what they’re asking for.
That’s why we leave the variables up to you – allowing you to standardize your fresh produce quality control process from end to end with exactly what you need to reduce waste and increase profits.
Ready to start planning the perfect cherry. Download our ultimate cherry checklist.