Good Fruit Grower

May 15

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Page 38 of 63 Good Fruit Grower MAY 15, 2016 39 see which ones work, letting the once ubiquitous Bing shrink as a percentage of the crop. The industry still is looking for the "silver bullet," a variety that will ripen early, stay firm and resist cracking, said Gotelli of O-G Packing. Gotelli forecasts a good future for the cherry industry due to the variety research and continued improvements to packing lines. He even forecasts a bump in the labor pool as the growing blueberry industry automates, freeing up workers for cherries. However, he does not expect the cherry industry to expand much. "I don't think it's going to keep expanding for a little while here for California, not at the pace that it was." Coral, Brooks and Tulare are the most common varieties in the southern part of the state, with Coral working the best so far, said Frost, who has been removing his Tulare trees and plans to take out some Brooks soon. Heat stress during and after harvest also takes its toll, causing a higher percentage of doubles and spurs. Bakersfield averages a high temperature of 97 degrees in July, compared to 88 in Yakima, Washington. In short, cherries are a tough crop in California. "It was pretty arrogant of us to plant cherries down here in the desert," he said. But Frost calls himself an optimist. "I think we can do it down here. We've got plenty of problems, but we've also got ideas how to solve them." • In the distance to the left sits one of the southernmost commercial cherry orchards in California, managed by Bruce Frost, southeast of Arvin. To the right is the Arvin-Edison Water Storage District South Canal, and beyond that are the Tehachapi Mountains and the Mojave Desert.

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