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Post-harvest moist storage of wild cherry seeds improves the uniformity of germination

Dr Bill Finch-Savage

Wild cherry (Prunus avium) seed performance and response to dormancy-breaking treatments, like that of most broad-leaved tree species, varies and this can cause significant problems on the nursery. We found that fruit and seed development were independent. Consequently, seeds may be at different stages of development, in different years, even if they are harvested when the fruit characteristics are the same. In addition, it is not practical to net trees, so to avoid predation by birds, the fruits are harvested before they are uniformly ripe. Results indicate that much of the variation in seed performance results from these differences in seed development at harvest.

A post-harvest period of moist storage, after removal of the flesh and before drying, appears to allow the continuation of seed development. After this simple storage treatment, seed lots respond more uniformly to dormancy breaking treatments and the necessity for more complex treatments, consisting of alternating periods of warm and cold, is greatly reduced.

Wild cherries at four consecutive weekly harvests

Wild cherries at four consecutive weekly harvests

 

Variation in fruit development on the tree

Variation in fruit development on the tree

 

Cherry fruits do not ripen uniformly

Cherry fruits do not ripen uniformly