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Scientists that created cotton candy grapes develop new kind of cherry with one incredible feature: 'Changing up the cherry game'

"Traditionally, there are many chill requirements to grow a great cherry …"

“Traditionally, there are many chill requirements to grow a great cherry ..."

Photo Credit: iStock

It seems as if "Cran Man" has been surpassed by a certain Cheery Cherry salesperson.

International Fruit Genetics — the California breeder behind Cotton Candy grapes — has entered the cherry business in a big way, delivering three more patented sweet cherry varieties earlier this year to bring its stable to 10, The Packer reported. IFG has already achieved "table grape perfection" with 48 trademarked flavors.

Cherries from orchards in Spain and Chile are already available, while those grown in California will be sold in 2024. The produce will also come from Australia and South Africa.

"IFG is devoted to revolutionizing cherries as we know them — we are changing up the cherry game to Cherry 2.0 in fact," Alwyn van Jaarsveld, IFG international commercial cherry manager, said in a news release. 

"Our program develops varieties that are early harvests with low to high chill requirements, allowing our delicious line of cherries to be adaptable to more regions around the world, expanding global cherry production. This allows us to ensure our cherries are crunchy and sweet, with great flavor, year-round."

The new additions are Cheery Cupid (heart-shaped with a sweet-tart taste), Cheery Nebula (big and round with a long green stem, intense taste), and Cheery Chap (intense color and taste). Nebula and Chap require less than 300 chill hours; Cupid needs just 300 to 500.

"Traditionally, there are many chill requirements to grow a great cherry, but IFG is changing that with our early and 'low chill' cherry varieties," said Antonia Sánchez-Labbé, IFG international technical cherry manager and country cherry manager. 

"Until now, most cherry trees have required 800-1,000 chill hours of temperatures below 45°F (7.2°C). IFG has created varieties of cherries that need less than half that much."

There are similar ventures underway around the world, including researchers modifying rice stomata for saltwater resistance; scientists engineering low-maintenance, blight-tolerant, heat-resistant apple trees; and farmers growing crossbred fruit with names such as plumegranates and aromacots.

Each enterprise is intended to answer food scarcity questions that may become increasingly common as the planet warms. For example, corn yields are expected to decline 24% by 2030, though wheat yields may grow 17%, according to a 2021 NASA study.

Sánchez-Labbé said IFG grows its cherry trees in "a typically harsh environment to weed out the weaker progeny." All varieties are non-genetically modified organisms capable of being stored for weeks at a time, which allows them to be sold internationally as well as domestically.

Making Cheery Cherry Man's job all the easier.

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