Integrated analysis for improving export of sweet cherries and how a small industry can compete by focusing on premium quality.

Toivonen, P.M.A. (2015). "Integrated analysis for improving export of sweet cherries and how a small industry can compete by focusing on premium quality.", Acta Horticulturae (ISHS), 1079, pp. 71-82.

Abstract

The British Columbia sweet cherry industry, which neighbors a huge US industry, relies on export markets that pay premium prices. Premium export quality relies on having both high quality large fruit and green stems. Harvesting sweet cherries at later maturities results in superior eating quality and the focus has been to harvest a more mature fruit. While the stem is not edible, it is important to visual impact and is an indicator of freshness. The first research on sweet cherries for export focused on retaining a bright green stem up to six weeks storage and details of that work will be discussed. Development of late season cultivars was necessary to extend the season past the US crop. 'Sweetheart' has become the most reliable cultivar for containerized ocean shipment. Characteristics important to containerized shipment of sweet cherries were identified and data on shipping potential and respiratory heat will be presented. Logistics from harvest to packing and the impact of deviations in logistics on sweet cherry quality at market was evaluated to develop optimal handling specifications. It is critical to protect harvested fruit with reflective covers to prevent stem browning and improve fruit quality during shipping. Post-pack cooling is also mandatory to reliable quality retention for cherries harvested at later maturities. One factor that does not appear to have large effect on shipping quality is plastic packaging or box liner type. Success of containerized shipping of premium quality sweet cherries is dependent on numerous factors, all of which must be optimized.

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