experts does it take to produce a quality cherry? About as
many as it takes to keep us healthy. That was one eye-opening
fact I learned at a recent symposium sponsored by the Montana
Department of Agriculture and attended by cherry growers from
Montana, Washington, Idaho and Canada.
and other dark colored fruits and berries pack a host of
health promoting antioxidant substances that some say qualify
them for super food status. One cup of sweet cherries also
provides 90 calories, 3 grams of dietary fiber and a variety
of vitamins and minerals. Incidentally, for people on low
potassium diets for medical reasons, cherries are considered a
low potassium fruit. And they taste good!
listened to these orchardists (a new term for me), plant
specialists and researchers discuss the goals and challenges
of producing a perfect cherry, I was struck by the
similarities between plant and human nutrition.
differences. Silly me. I thought a cherry was a cherry ó
some sweet and some tart. But I learned that at least six
varieties, including Lambert, Rainier, Sweetheart and Lapin,
thrive around the Flathead Lake area of northwest Montana.
nutrition a little at a time. High quality cherries need
nutrients supplied at regular intervals, these plant experts
stressed. Meals and snacks spaced throughout the day also help
maintain high quality humans.
balanced. We all need balanced nutrition, including fruit
trees, noted Canadian cherry grower Greg Norton. But thereís
often a misconception that more is better.
an analysis of your tree sap to find out where youíre at
nutritionally," he urged growers. (Blood tests work
better than tree sap to identify nutritional needs in humans.)
"Balance, balance, balance ó thatís what nutrition is
all about. Donít overdo anything."
what you need. "Nutrition affects the size and firmness
of the fruit," explained Oregon cherry orchardist Mike
Omeg. "And different types of cherries have different
nutrient targets." Thatís one reason why human
nutrition is individualized these days.
hydrated. "Fruit trees that donít have enough water donít
do well," explained plant physiologist Peter Toivonen. To
become firm sweet, cherry trees need adequate amounts of
water. We know, right?
appropriately. Extra growth on a tree sucks away energy and
makes it more susceptible to disease, says Toivonen. True also
for our species if we pack too much growth around our trunks.
militant against weeds and pests. "They rob fruit trees
of moisture and nutrients," said Omeg. Plant pathologist
and insect diagnostician (really) Laurie Kerzicnik from
Montana State University explained various sustainable
techniques to keep invaders away from food crops. And she
emphasized that healthy crops are better able to resist pesky
predators. Humans, too, fare better against health-robbing
invaders when we are well nourished.
cherries are best found at their peak during the summer
months. Until that time rolls around again, we can find dried
cherries, cherry juice, cherry jam Ö even cherry molasses
and vinegars. And by the way, B. Beradini Winery makes their
cherry wine exclusively from locally grown Montana cherries.