Improving Tart Cherry Sustainability

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2015: $230,154.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2018
Grant Recipient: Utah State University
Region: Western
State: Utah
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Brent Black
Utah State University

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Fruits: cherries


  • Crop Production: cropping systems, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, focus group, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, sustainability measures


    During both the 2016 and 2017 reporting periods, assessment of rootstocks and in-row tree spacing was carried out through measurement of yield for each rootstock, spacing and training treatment in three existing orchards. A prototype mechanical over-the-row harvester was used to harvest fruit in high density tart cherry systems, and modifications were made to the harvester to improve effectiveness. Graduate student Sheriden Hansen began working on the project in June 2015. Her efforts focused on: (1) evaluating renewal pruning techniques in high density orchards to facilitate over-the-row harvesting, (2) evaluating the effectiveness of mechanical summer pruning in high density orchards, and (3) quantifying the relationship between light micro-environment and fruit quality in both conventional and high density orchards. She also carried out experiments to evaluate the effects of training system on spray droplet distribution within the canopy as well as total light interception. During Fall 2017, Ms. Hansen analyzed the data for her renewal pruning and summer hedging studies, and wrote and successfully defended her M.S. thesis.

    Project objectives:

    1) Determine the optimum combination of rootstock, row spacing and tree training.

    2) Compare the distribution uniformity of crop protectant applications.

    3) Determine the response of ‘Montmorency’ tart cherry to mechanical summer pruning.

    4) Determine the relationship between light micro-environment and fruit quality in tart cherry.

    5) Develop enterprise budgets for both conventional and high density systems.

    6) Provide high-density cherry management experience to several early adopters.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.