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The Glen Red variety, one of three varieties developed and patented by Bradford Genetics, will be grown under license agreements throughout the world. In the United States, Warmerdam Packing, LLC, of California has  the exclusive license and has sublicens

The Glen Red variety, one of three varieties developed and patented by Bradford Genetics, will be grown under license agreements throughout the world. In the United States, Warmerdam Packing, LLC, of California has the exclusive license and has sublicens

The club variety concept, a new trend in apple marketing whereby patented varieties are merchandised as a franchise
and plantings restricted, has expanded to sweet cherries.

California’s Warmerdam Packing, LLC, in Hanford, became the exclusive licensee in the United States in May of a group of patented varieties developed by Bradford Genetics, Le Grand, California, and will control the production, packing, and marketing. The varieties—Glen Red, Glen Rock, and Glenoia—are early season cherries and will all be marketed under the trademarked Sequoia brand.

The varieties have also been licensed to entities in South America and South Africa, with agreements under negotiation in Europe and Australia, said Glen Bradford, co-owner of Bradford Genetics. Viveros Requinoa, a nursery in Chile, was granted the license in South America and will work with Chilean club growers; TopFruit is the licensee in South Africa.

The three cherries are the most promising varieties that resulted from a number of Bing, Brooks, and Tulare crosses that Bradford Genetics made in the 1990s. Differences between them are slight and mostly deal with timing, said John Warmerdam, general manager of Warmerdam Packing, adding that only growers would notice how they differ.

Warmerdam Packing sublicensed the cherry varieties to Stemilt Growers, Inc., Wenatchee, allowing them to grow, pack, and market Sequoia brand cherries produced in Washington State. Collaborative marketing efforts will take place between the two entities, Warmerdam said.

Currently, only royalties for the breeders are collected from growers participating in the planting, outside of packing charges, he said.

“We’re extremely fortunate to participate in this project,” Warmerdam adds. “If it were not for the Sequoia cherries, I’d be less optimistic about the future for cherries.”

Low chilling

Glen Red began as the main variety, with the other two developed by Bradford as pollinators, according to Warmerdam. In California, Glen Red ripens a few days before Brooks, starting usually within the first few days of May. Glen Rock follows Glen Red, and then Glenoia, which is about a week after Glen Red. Timing for the cherries in Washington is believed to be near or slightly after the Chelan variety, based on a California test variety block.

He described fruit size as about the same as Brooks, but said the main advantages over the other early season cherries are Glen Red’s low chilling requirements and improved precocity. Wintertime temperatures in California can be too warm to push trees into dormancy.

“It also handles rain pretty well and hangs well on the tree with fruit staying firm,” he said. “About one week from harvest, you wonder why you planted the variety, but within the week, it changes into a high-Brix, dark red cherry. It stays crisp and crunchy, especially when treated with gibberellic acid.”

Warmerdam believes that Sequoia will become the preferred variety in its timing, and he sees great potential for the brand in the export market. He also thinks that Glen Red has the right genetics for future mechanical harvesting as the fruit can be picked all at one time.

A solid foundation for the Sequoia cherry brand is already in the ground in California where 500 acres of Glen Red are planted, Warmerdam said, although only a small portion are in production. Glen Red is planted in the southern San Joaquin Valley near Arvin, Shafter, and Tulare, along the eastern side of the valley near Orosi, with the remaining blocks planted near Warmerdam’s packing house in Hanford.

Planting will soon shift to Glen Rock and Glenoia varieties to spread out the harvest peak. No acreage has been planted in Washington yet. Stemilt was allocated a maximum of 250 acres that it can either plant or relicense to other growers in the state.

Warmerdam said they have not established an acreage cap but are controlling volume partly through careful selection of participating growers.

“Ultimate volume will be predicated on our ability to manage the crop and handle it in the packing shed,” he said, adding that from his experience, “there’s never an oversupply of high-quality cherries.”