Bryce Molesworth, a cherry grower in Mosier, Oregon, was crowned the Cherry Institute’s 69th Cherry King in recognition of his dedication to the Northwest cherry industry.
Presenting the award, Tim Smith, the retiring Cherry King, said Molesworth has a passion for the cherry industry and a long history of industry service. Molesworth has served on the Oregon Sweet Cherry Commission for 14 years and chaired it for almost 10 years and has served as chair of the National Cherry Growers and Industry Foundation.
He is on the research committee of the Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers and has been a vocal supporter of the concept that the cherry-producing states in the Pacific Northwest remain open to working together on research, technology, and market development.
Molesworth grew up in The Dalles, Oregon, where he worked in his father’s cherry orchard at Mosier during school vacations. Not intending to be a farmer, he attended Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, and then transferred to the University of Oregon to study architecture. It was there that he met his wife, Allene.
In 1963, he decided to return to Mosier to help his father manage their cherry orchard, where he enjoyed the thrill, uncertainty, and uniqueness of each season.
Smith said Molesworth was known to say, “This is a crazy business… Growing cherries is like playing stud poker, but you can’t fold.”
Several years later, at the age of 28, he bought his first cherry orchard and supplemented his income by working for Stadelman Fruit Company in The Dalles. He moved from rolling barrels to running the night crew and working as a field horticulturist in LaGrande during harvest. He also learned about the art of brining cherries.
In 1983, Molesworth partnered with Arin Williams to found the brining business Columbia Cherry Company. He also is a partner with his son Darin in Brass Ring Orchards LLC, where they grow 14 different varieties of cherries on about 200 acres.
Molesworth serves on the Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District and has served on the Wasco County Weed Board.
In 2006, he posed, wearing nothing but his shoes, for a calendar featuring 12 local cherry growers working nude, which was a fundraiser for the Mosier Community School. Molesworth said at the time that though driving his tractor with no clothes on was fun, it was “probably not going to be an everyday occurrence.”
The selection of the Cherry King is done through a secret nomination process by previous cherry royalty.
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