Premium Rainier grade approved
The new grade defines the minimum size and color of Rainier cherries sold as “Premium.”
Washington State Fruit Commission
A new premium grade has been introduced for Rainier and other light-colored cherries packed in Washington State.
To be graded as premium, at least 90 percent of the cherries in a lot must be at least 1 inch in diameter (10-1/2 row) and no more than 5 percent can be smaller than 11 row. In addition, 90 percent of the cherries in a lot must have a pink-red surface blush and in any sample, not more than 20 percent can have no blush.
Light colored varieties also have a minimum maturity requirement of 17° Brix. There is no such requirement for dark cherries.
The Washington Cherry Marketing Committee asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish the premium Rainier grade a year ago. The USDA approved the request on June 5 this year, allowing it to go into effect for the 2010 season.
According to B.J. Thurlby, president of the Washington State Fruit Commission, consumers prefer light-colored cherries that have a reddish blush. Although a correlation between the flavor of the cherries and the amount of blush has not been proven, there is a definite price correlation.