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Tart Cherry Collection
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USDA Tart Cherry (Prunus cerasus) Collection


Prunus species provide an assortment of valuable horticultural crops, including cherries, plums, apricots, peaches, and nectarines. PGRU is responsible for tart cherry (Prunus cerasus) and its relatives and maintains 149 accessions representing 16 species and hybrids. P. cerasus (2n=32) is a tetraploid hybrid of Prunus avium (2n=16) (sweet cherry) and Prunus fruticosa (2n=32) (European dwarf cherry). Fruit quality, including fruit firmness, acidity, final use, and fruit chemistry distinguish tart cherries from sweet cherries (Serradilla et al. 2016). Tart cherry is a prime example of the need to utilize broad genetic diversity. U.S. tart cherry production was valued at $56.6M in 2018 (USDA/NASS 2019), with production based on a centuries-old French cultivar, ‘Montmorency’. PGRU research is focusing on tart cherry cold-hardiness and phenology, fruit quality, aromatics, and anthocyanin content. Anthocyanin content is of interest because of its contribution to fruit color and nutritional quality of tart cherries (Serradilla et al. 2016). Fruit samples were collected across five growing seasons and measured for different fruit quality traits. Results show total soluble solids (sweetness) ranges from 11.4 to 22.63 °Brix, and malic acid content ranges from 5.3 to 34.7 g·L-1. Total anthocyanin content ranges from 72.9 to 2640.7 μg·g-1 in fresh fruit, with ‘Montmorency’ on the low end (110.1 μg·g-1). Cultivars ‘Stevensbar’, NY 13664, ‘Tamaris’, and a Prunus hybrid PI 657708 had high total anthocyanin content with 1466.4, 1575.6, 2038.0, and 2640.7 μg·g-1, respectively (un-published data). While ‘Montmorency’ remains fixed in time through propagation, climate conditions and horticultural practices have changed around it. Events such as late frost, higher than normal temperatures or rainfall significantly impact tart cherry production in the United States (USDA/NASS 2019). Additionally, the cherry industry is moving to primarily mechanical harvest techniques. Cultivars with increased quality, local adaptations, and increased yield will ensure the continued success of the U.S. tart cherry industry (Iezzoni 2008). 

Excerpt from: Gutierrez B, Battaglia K, Zhong G-Y (2020) Preserving the future with the USDA Plant Genetic Resources Unit tart cherry, grape, and apple germplasm collections. Journal of the American Pomological Society 7 


Iezzoni AF (2008) Cherries. In: Hancock JF (ed) Temperate Fruit Crop Breeding: Germplasm to Genomics. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht, pp 151–176
Serradilla MJ, Hernández A, López-Corrales M, Ruiz-Moyano S, de Guía Córdoba M, Martín A (2016) Composition of the Cherry (Prunus avium L. and Prunus cerasus L.; Rosaceae). In: Nutritional Composition of Fruit Cultivars. Elsevier, pp 127–147
USDA/NASS (2019) Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts 2018 Summary. ISSN 1948-2698.

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Visit the CHERRY-TART crop page in GRIN-Global to find citations and descriptor data. 

Interested in plant conservation? Read about the vulnerability of Prunus genetic resources.

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PGRU Tart Cherry Accession Distribution 1996-2021


Data from GRIN-Global