The collection of sour cherry and sweet cherry in question is located in Northern latitudes of Russia and includes the most winter tolerant genotypes. Collection and study of stone fruit crops has been a long-term subject matter of research activities by VIR since the establishment of the Pavlovsk Experiment Station. Since the productive age of sour cherry in conditions of the North is 15 years, the collection was replanted several times in the post-war period, namely in 1951-56, 1971-1975, 1989-91, 2004-2010.
In comparison with the collection of 1989-91, by 2004-2010 its volume has increased almost twice due to the inclusion of new, better genotypes bred in Russia during the last 20 years. In 2004, a decision was taken to broaden the specific composition of the collection because of the breeding projects launched in the country for developing Coccomyces resistant sour cherry cultivars. Since then, collection and introduction into the collection of East Asiatic species (donors of Coccomyces resistance) has been carried out. In recent years, accessions of such species as C.kurilensis, C.maximowiczii, C.sachalinnensis and C.maackii have been added to the collection.
At present, the collection includes 187 accessions of sour cherry and steppe cherry, 52 of sweet cherry, 14 microcerasus cultivars, and 49 varietal samples of bird cherry. Thus, the total collection includes 302 varietal samples of sour cherry, sweet cherry, bird cherry, microcerasus and 140 seedlings of Microcerasus tomentosa. Sour and steppe cherry genotypes from different regions of Russia, namely Northwest, Upper and Central Volga, Central, Central Black Soil, and Urals, as well as from Baltic and other countries of the Northern hemisphere are represented in the collection. It also includes sweet cherry cultivars created at the Pavlovsk Station during the period from 1945 till present, as well as those bred using the former at the Lupine Research Institute (Bryansk city), Research Institute of Fruit Crops Breeding (Oryol city), Research Institute of Genetics and Fruit Plants Breeding (Michurinsk town), Institute of Horticulture (Belarus), Polli Horticultural Institute (Estonia). The collection contains 18 sour and sweet cherry cultivars that formed the basis of the collection before WW2. The total plants at the new replanted site is 852. Accessions at the site are in good condition.
The replanted collection occupies 1.5 ha; its accessions were spaced using a scheme of denser (4 x 2 m) planting. Depending on cultivar peculiarities, both own-rooted and grafted plants are available. 20 in vitro propagated cultivars have been transferred into field conditions. 44 varietal samples have been transferred into in vitro culture to be conserved at the Biotechnology Department of VIR. Partially, vegetative propagation was carried out at a nursery of the St.Petersburg Agrarian University, Scientific Production Association “Taitsy” and at the experimental and breeding nursery of M.V.Lebedev. Besides, scientists in charge of the crops have propagated 50 accessions of sour cherry and bird cherry and produced 140 seedlings of Microcerasus tomentosa.
The area occupied by the collections of sour cherry, sweet cherry and bird cherry totals 3.9 ha.
Material from the collection is shipped to various institutions in Russia and abroad according to the incoming requests. All in all, 292 varietal samples were sent to different breeding institutions in various countries.
In relation to the videoconference held on 24 September 2010, we would like to address several questions to members of the expert group:
How did it happen that neither collection curators, nor keepers were invited to meet the group?
Why the group criticizes the status of the collection of stone fruits and the work done on the collection, though it never visited the new replanted collection and based its impression only having seen the old site with plants that are kept for young accessions verification?
Dr. A.A.Yushev, Leading Researcher, Department of Fruit Crops of VIR, Curator of sour cherry, sweet cherry, bird cherry and nut crops collections.
Dr. S.Yu.Orlova, Senior Researcher, Department of Fruit Crops of VIR.