Researchers in Summerland are developing a technology to determine the quality of cherries while the fruit is still hanging on the tree.
The research work is being conducted by researchers at the Summerland Research and Development Centre, led by Dr. Peter Toivonen.
The team is working with mobile hand-held optical spectrometers to develop models to precisely gauge the quality of cherries.
An optical spectrometer is a scientific instrument that emits light and measures how much of that light reflects back to the instrument.
The reflected light depends on the chemical composition of the fruit.
This technology will also predict the firmness and flavour of the fruit after storage or shipping.
The team is working to determine the best values for fruit quality and storability for several cherry varieties including Lapins, Staccato, Sweetheart and other commercial varieties.
The researchers are also working to identify any limitation technologies before it is available to end users.
The end users — quality assurance or field service staff — will also need training before putting these devices to work in the field.
“Being able to reliably measure the maturity and quality of cherries, without sacrificing any of that crop to sampling, will save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on container shipment claims for the industry,” Toivonen. said.
He added that if Canadian cherry growers canimprove their reputation for consistent high quality and flavour, they could see a 10 to 20 per cent increase on returns as a result of improved consistency in quality.
Since every container of cherries contains approximately $100,000 worth of fruit, an increase on returns can be significant.
“People are doing this work in other countries,” Toivonen said. “If we are not part of it, we are behind.”