Canadian cherry producers inc.

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What are sour cherries?

Sour cherries are used primarily for processing; cooking and baking. Sweet cherries ( the kind you buy fresh in stores, in season ) are commonly eaten fresh as whole cherries. Sweet cherries do not make good cooking cherries because when they are heated they loose much of their flavour. Sour cherries that consumers commonly find canned for pie filling cook well and make awesome pies.

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How are U of S cherries different from other sour cherries?

Oh, this list gets pretty long. University of Saskatchewan cherries released after the mid 1990's are dwarf shrubs. The shrub is a dwarf not the fruit. Other sour cherries like the "Evans" cherry is a tree. The Evans cherry is from Edmonton and was introduced to prairie growers at the urging of Dr. Ieuan Evans by DNA Gardens. Dwarf shrubs have numerous advantages including:

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I have heard "tart" and "sour". What is the difference?

Basically there is no difference. Americans often use the word "tart" as opposed to sour but they are referring to the same type of cherries. "Pie cherries" is also a term used along with "Montmorency" which is a variety name (and the variety most widely grown in the USA).

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Where are most sour cherries grown?

The bulk of the world's sour cherries are grown in Russia, Poland, the Ukraine, and Turkey. Michigan produces the most sour cherries in the USA but the USA accounts for less than 10% of the world production. Canada is a small producer also, but is a significant exporter. The world's other sour cherries are cherries grown on a tree, significantly different than U of S developed cherries which are a dwarf shrub. Trees grow 15-20 feet tall while dwarf shrubs grow 6-8 feet tall.

World Production

16% Russian Federation
15% Poland
13% Ukraine
11% Turkey
10% USA
0.5% Canada

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Cherries grown on the prairies...come on, it gets below minus 40 degrees there.

Yes the Canadian Prairies does get pretty cold in winter. U of S developed sour cherries are hardy to these extremes. But what is really significant is that most of the diseases and insects that infest other fruit growing regions cannot survive in the Canadian Prairies. Thus sour cherries grown on the Canadian Prairies have far less chemicals applied during their growing season; in fact, U of S cherries are commonly grown organically or with drastically reduced chemicals used.



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Are there different kinds of U of S cherries?

Yes. The "Evans" cherry was a variety developed in the 1950's is commonly grown on the Canadian Prairies. Although it is a good hardy plant that produces a lighter coloured (yellowish flesh) fruit. The "Evans" cherry is a tree. It is similar to sour or tart cherries varieties grown elsewhere in the world but is hardy to the prairies. The University of Saskatchewan developed a dwarf shrub cherry plant and the first to be released was the "Carmine Jewel" in the 1990's. Two researchers at the U of S have been instrumental in maintaining the breeding program for cherries; Dr. Bob Bors and Rick Sawatsky. Through extensive work the U of S released the romance series of cherries in the spring of 2006. These include Romeo, Juliette, Valentine, Crimson Passion, and (of course) Cupid.

The fruit from these plants is generally very similar but each cultivar has some distinctive traits. If funding can be found research will continue to identify such things as "are particular cultivars better suited to particular products?" such a juice, pies, drying, fresh, and jams.

The University of Saskatchewan has plant breeders, the food labs, the analytical equipment, and the talent to do much. Fruit breeding for cold climates will continue to have a huge impact around the world. Consumers are hungry for foods grown in relatively pristine conditions - it is perceived as simply healthier. CCPI will press, and encourages consumers to, press governments, the University, and industry to invest in this important research.

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