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Each cherry has a subtly different taste due to the varying amounts of red and white flesh. Farrell consistently receives positive feedback, including comments such as “one of the best cherries I’ve ever had” and “ it has restored my taste for cherries.”

Encouraged by consumer response, Farrell began working with the Summerland Varieties Corporation, (formerly known as the Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation, PICO). “I had been in discussion with them for several years and then last year they confirmed that they would go ahead with patenting and developing.” “We should have virus-free budwood available next summer for test,” said Nick Ibuki, SVC operations manager. “This year we will be budding the material in our mother block to create budwood test trees that we will examine to ensure the virus-free trees are consistent with the non-certified trees we’ve been looking at for the past few years.”

This year Ibuki will distribute wood to SVC’s global partners to see how it performs in the various cherry growing areas of the world. He anticipates that in a few years he will have the information required to decide if the release will be open or released only to specific partners in the world. “This will most likely be an open release in Canada,” Ibuki said. Marble cherry budwood may be available for sale as early as 2016, but for the time being only test material can be distributed. “The world of plant protection is very strict and anytime we release a variety into the world we need a global plan which takes into account the complexities of protecting a variety in a number of countries with very different rules,” Ibuki said.

Farrell is pleased by the initial interest shown by growers. “At the moment, there is a greater interest from U.S. growers. I believe this is primarily due to their larger domestic and export markets,” he said.

He feels current trade laws may account for some hesitancy by BC growers to plant new varieties, especially a potentially niche market product.

Eventually, Farrell would like to have one or more acres of Marble cherries to supply demand from farm gate customers.

“We already have people asking for 16 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2014

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