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very proud to have it in our backyard. The
success is due to a number of reasons,
such as creating the first commercial self-
fertile cherry varieties and extending the
harvest season from early to very late.
What traits are Canadian cherry breeders
The Canadian cherry breeding program
always keeps very diverse selection
criteria. The crosses of today will not be
available for another 20 years, so we
need to keep that in mind and develop
a diverse portfolio. We look to develop
quality cherries from early to late season
and everything in between. Quality cherries
are large, firm, productive and low-splitting;
they ship well and have excellent eating
attributes. Disease resistance and good
post-harvest attributes are also looked for.
Geographically we sit just above
Washington State. Our grower returns are
often set well before we even come into
production. Late-season cherries for us are
a way of escaping from the peak of cherries
produced to the south. That being said,
we have a great line-up of cherries, from
early-season all the way through, to sustain
our growers and packing houses with an
extended harvest season.
Are there any upcoming developments
with late-season varieties?
Yes, there is some very interesting material
in the pipeline. The super-late material is
still a number of years away, but there is
some interesting mid-season material on
hile the Canadian
cherry industry is only
slightly larger than
just over 20,000
tonnes in 2015, its cherry breeding program
is often cited as the most successful in
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s
Summerland Research and Development
Centre (RDC) has been breeding cherries
since 1936. Out of that program have come
widely adopted varieties including Stella,
Van, Santina, Staccato, Lapins, Sweetheart,
Summit, Sentennial and Sylvia.
Summerland Varieties Corporation
(SVC) selects and commercialises new
varieties developed by Summerland RDC.
SVC, previously known as the Okanagan
Plant Improvement Corporation (PICO),
also operates a budwood orchard with
more than 50 cherry varieties. From there,
it supplies planting material to Canadian
growers and international nursery partners
such as the Australian Nurserymen’s Fruit
Improvement Company (ANFIC).
Cherry magazine spoke to SVC’s
operations manager Nick Ibuki about where
Canadian cherry breeding is heading and
what it might mean for Australian growers.
Why was Summerland Varieties
Corporation first established?
SVC was established in 1993 by the British
Columbia Fruit Growers’ Association
in response to Canada adopting plant
breeders’ rights. It was recognised early
on that many of the publicly funded
varieties were going out into the world
and competing directly with Canadian
growers with no return on investment to the
SVC was created to manage the
intellectual property rights of the
Summerland RDC breeding program
globally. Royalties are now collected from
international partners and returned to
Canada to be used for further research
and development related to new variety
development, leading to a continuous
pipeline of new varieties always being
developed and released for the betterment
What kind of licensing arrangements do
you use for new cherry variety releases?
There are a number of different licence
arrangements made for cherry varieties,
each based on the unique attributes of
a variety. The spectrum goes from some
varieties being available to all growers on a
simple per tree basis, to the other extreme
of a limited number of partners having
exclusive access to a new variety whereby
they pay a per tree royalty, per hectare
planting fee and a further production royalty.
How prominent are Summerland
cherry varieties outside Canada?
Summerland cherry varieties are found
all over the world in almost all cherry-
growing regions. The Summerland RDC is
without a doubt the most successful cherry
breeding program on the planet, so we are
keep a broad portfolio
With an eye on the future needs of growers, Canada’s cherry
breeding powerhouse at Summerland is keeping its options open.
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