Wally Heuser is Cherry Industry Person of the Year
Wallace “Wally” Heuser, president of Summit Sales and International Plant Management, won recognition this year as Cherry Industry Person of the Year. The award was made during the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan.
Heuser has had a strong impact on the cherry industry. International Plant Management, located in Lawrence, Michigan, brought Gisela rootstocks to the United States from Germany and fostered their introduction. The company is now in charge of evaluating and introducing new sweet cherry varieties developed by plant breeders at Cornell University before cherry breeding efforts there ended. Key new varieties include the Pearl series—BurgundyPearl, EbonyPearl, BlackPearl, and RadiancePearl.
Heuser is an authority on fruit varieties, rootstocks, and orchard design and management systems. International Plant Management has, since its creation in 1989, released 40 new varieties and has more than 100 under test.
He was the a founder and the first president of the International Fruit Tree Association, formed in the 1950s to evaluate and promote apple trees on dwarfing rootstocks. He received that organization’s first Hall of Fame Award.
He is a past president of the Michigan State Horticultural Society, the Michigan Peach Sponsors, and the National Peach Council.
Heuser spoke July 13 at the Sweet Cherry Showcase, hosted annually by International Plant Management and Michigan State University. There, he said he expected perhaps one more release of a Cornell fresh-market variety that has one important flaw—cracking—but may be a good one for growing under rain protection. Additional processing varieties may also be released in the future, he said.
The Sweet Cherry Showcase this year displayed more than 100 varieties and included several numbered selections from Washington State University and Cornell University. They were lined up alphabetically, from Anderson and Attika to Tieton and Ulster and Windsor, for growers to look at and taste.