The royal anseo is a higher-chill selection and can grow anywhere bings can grow, but it ripens earlier than bings and has “really nice size and firmness.”
Royal edie and royal helen varieties are large cherries that come off after bings.
“They seem to be doing really well,” Gardner said.
Zaiger’s Genetics licenses its cherry selections to Dave Wilson Nursery, Hickman, Calif.
California’s cherry industry has transformed over the past three decades, Bradford said.
Thirty years ago, there were virtually no cherries growing south of Modesto.
Then, with the tulare, which BQ Genetics developed, and the brooks from the University of California, that all changed.
“It opened up a whole new addition to the industry,” he said.
The early season is especially significant because the first cherries out of the south can sell for $100-200 per box, while those that come off later in the north sell for $30 to $40 per box, he said.
The emphasis is on developing early varieties that don’t show doubling or cracking the following year, he said.
Eventually, lower-chill varieties may be discovered that thrive in warmer regions of Southern California or Mexico, enabling the season to be extended even longer, Cain said.
Cherries are one of the few fruits that are not available year-round, so breeders are working to get as close to year-round production as possible using various growing areas, he said.