By Rochelle Feil Adamowsky The Wenatche World
WENATCHEE — For Stemilt Hill cherry grower Gordy Goodwin, persistence is paying off. It was about eight years ago that Goodwin noticed one of his newly planted cherry trees was different than the rest.
“I knew it was later, but I didn’t know if it was something else, like Sweetheart or another variety out of Canada,” he said. He called Van Well Nursery in East Wenatchee, where he got his trees from, and asked them to take a look at it.
Though the fieldman who took the first look wasn’t convinced it was something new, Goodwin wasn’t fazed. After persisting, he got them to come out again. This time, they agreed: This wasn’t just a different kind of tree from the rest of his block, it was a new one altogether.
As for a name, Goodwin, also the pastor of Stemilt Hill Church, went with his faith and named it “Glory.”
“The Lord gets the glory for this cherry because it’s where it came from,” he explained. “They’ve asked me if I’ve wanted it to be called Goodwin or something, but I say No, I’m not taking the glory for it. It’s the Lord’s.’ “
The tree, which underwent DNA tests last year to certify it wasn’t an already-named variety, ripens about 20 days after Bing trees, said Pete Van Well of Van Well Nursery. Goodwin said last year he started picking it Aug. 10.
“It’s the latest cherry that I know of,” said Van Well, “and I know a lot of cherry varieties.”
Van Well said growers are on the lookout for those cherries that mature significantly earlier or later than average. “They’re looking to spread out picking season so cherries don’t come in at the same time,” he said.
In addition to being late, Glory has other positive characteristics. “It has good flavor, high brix — high sugar — and seems to be a firm cherry,” noted Van Well. He added that it tastes good to him, but the nursery hasn’t conducted official taste tests yet.
Goodwin said he likes its characteristics, too. Goodwin thinks it is a bit sweeter than a Bing cherry but not as sweet as a Rainier. “It was 100 degrees and the cherries still stayed firm,” said Goodwin of how firm the cherry stayed last year.
Also, the cherry is self-fertile, meaning it doesn’t need another tree to produce fruit, an unusual characteristic for cherries, but one breeders are trying for, according to Van Well.
Going from discovery to growing a new cherry variety commercially takes 10 to 12 years, said Van Well. He says they plan to enter the patent application this summer and have trees ready for the market in two to three years.
Right now, they are working on testing the cherry in commercial orchards to see how it performs. Once granted, the patent is good for 20 years. “The big thing is to make sure it’s not a named variety and hasn’t been released. This is definitely a different tree,” said Van Well.
“If you pray, the Lord speaks to you. I’m sure he’ll be speaking to me once this develops. I’m sure he already has something in mind,” Goodwin said. “That’s exciting, what the Lord’s expecting.”