Video by Tallie Mattson/Matt Haugen, WSU News

PULLMAN, Wash. – Stem-free cherries are well on their way to reaching consumers within seven to 10 years. Washington State University is working toward providing the cherry industry with this unique niche product.

WSU received a $3.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative two years ago and is halfway through the project, said Amit Dhingra, WSU assistant professor and scientist.

Led by Matthew Whiting, associate professor and scientist at the WSU Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, the project focuses on sweet cherry harvest, marketing, consumer analysis, genetics and packaging.

On the WSU Pullman campus, researchers are extracting cherry fruit genetic material – focusing on the region where the stem meets the fruit – said Dhingra. Cherry tissues are processed to generate gene-based information for both researchers and breeders. 

Researchers are using Bing, Chelan and Selah cherry varieties.

The information will aid breeders in creating new varieties and developing a product that is different from the rest of the world, Dhingra said.

Source: Amit Dhingra, WSU Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, adhingra@wsu.edu, 509-335-6586