Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

July 21, 1999

Small cherry trees could mean big benefits to farmers

Cherry producers wanting to increase production and cut costs -- and keep consumers sweet on locally-grown cherries -- should consider growing cherries on size-controlling or "dwarfing" rootstocks, according to University of Guelph researchers.

A study by Profs. Bill Lay and Frank Eady from U of G's Vineland Research Station, run by the Department of Plant Agriculture, show that using dwarfing rootstocks will increase production. "Dwarfed rootstocks are appealing. They lead to smaller trees, less labour and equal, if not greater, productivity than standard-sized trees," Lay said.

When left to develop naturally, cherry trees can reach a great height and size, creating intensive labour needs. Planting smaller trees in higher-density orchards is a growing trend, as producers strive to lower their production costs.

Now in the second stage of experimental trials, the researchers are evaluating the performance of these size-controlling rootstocks in 11 regions with different growing conditions, including British Columbia, California, New York and Ontario. They want to subject the rootstock/variety combinations to various soil, temperature and rain conditions and compare productivity and fruit quality.

After the first planting trial, two new dwarf cherry rootstocks were recommended for use in North America. The trees are about 50 and 75 per cent as big as standard cherry trees. Trials involving these root stalks have expanded to include nine other experimental root stalks, which will begin bearing fruit in about two years. "There's a rising demand for quality cherries. They generate good income and it's in our best interest to keep looking for ways to benefit this industry," Lay said.

Contacts: Profs. Bill Lay and Frank Eady, Vineland Research Station (905) 562-4141,

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120 Ext. 3338

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