One June 16 I visited the IR- 2 Repository at Prosser, WA Agricultural Research and Extension Center of Washington State University. The IR-2 sweet cherry collection contains 59 varieties. The fruiting season was just beginning; on many cultivars the fruit was red but not ripe. We were highly impressed with the flavor of ‘Salmo’, a sweet cherry introduced from British Columbia. Erik Simpson’s tree of ‘Salmo’ on GM-61 grew about 3 ft of central leader from the scion in 1989 and survived the -28F cold of the past winter with about 2 inches of winterkill. ‘Salmo’ is an early- ripening cultivar. Its color is deep purple-black with just a bit of red. By contrast, the Bing’ cherries at Prosser were not fully ripe. I searched carefully, but even the ripest Bings’ were only a notch below Salmo in their flavor.
‘Sam’ which was as hardy for Erik as Salmo’, is a crack resistant, highly productive black sweet cherry and a good pollenizer. Tree structure was good (not unduly upright). The fruits were firm, but they were a notch below Salmo in flavor.
‘Viva’ is an early-ripening, medium-sized, semi-firm dark red sweet cherry that was fully ripe on June 16. Jo Whitney commented that the flavor of Viva’ had many components other than pure sweetness and liked it. The Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario introduced ‘Viva’ in 1973.
‘Kristen’ is a black sweet cherry which has performed well in Norway and Montana. Both I and Lawerence Clark found moderate to severe winter Injury on our trees after the winter of 1986-87 in Anchorage. Nevertheless, Kristen’ was fully ripe at Prosser June 16. The fruit was large, dark, glossy; the flesh was firm, meaty, juicy and very flavorful. It was introduced in 1982 at Geneva NY and is a cross of Emperor Francis’ with Gil Peck’. This cherry deserves to be tried again in Anchorage. Any cherry with different parentage (‘Salmo’, ‘Sam’. Viva ) should be cross compatible with Kristin’.
‘Larian’ is a dark red cherry which impressed me. It was fully ripe on June 16. Its hardiness is unknown. The tree in this collection was from California.
‘Star’, another ripe cherry, is a 1949 introduction by Ag Canada, Summerland, BC. It ripens 4 days after Viva’ at Vineland, Ontario. The flavor of ‘Star’ was good, though not as good as ‘Salmo’ or ‘Kristen’, and the size was medium-large.