Stemilt Growers is introducing the Skylar Rae cherry, and a third SKU to the cherry category, with the launch of Skylar Rae brand Tip Top cultivar cherries. Grown and marketed exclusively by Stemilt, the Tip Top cherry cultivar, which goes to market under the Skylar Rae brand, is a bi-colored cherry with a firm texture and flavor profile that makes it “The sweetest cherry you’ll ever eat,” according to company officials.
“Skylar Rae cherries are very unique. They are both extremely firm and sweet, with naturally high sugar levels that make it the sweetest cherry on the market,” says West Mathison, Stemilt president. “Though volumes are limited in 2015, we are very excited to start introducing Skylar Rae cherries to consumers, and look forward to increased volumes as trees come into production in the years to come.”
Boasting a golden yellow skin with a partial to full orange-red blush, and a firm and nearly colorless flesh, Skylar Rae cherries contain the highest sugar content of any sweet cherry on the market, measuring in at 23-25 Brix, officials add. In comparison, Rainier cherries contain average Brix of 19-23 and Dark Sweet cherries, 17-20.
The new variety was discovered growing by chance in a Wenatchee, Wash. orchard back in 2005. Rarely do varieties that appear by chance in nature end up being viable for commercial production, but this special cherry was an exception. The parentage of the new cherry is unknown, and believed to be a natural mutation of one tree that was planted years prior from nursery stock.
The Toftness family, growers at Stemilt who have been farming cherries at their Tip Top Orchards in Wenatchee, Wash. for more than a decade, discovered the new cherry shortly after suffering the loss of their infant daughter, Skylar Rae Toftness. Because of the timing of the discovery and events that surrounded it, the family knew this cherry was a rare gift from nature meant to honor their daughter, so when it came time to trademark a brand name for the fruit, they decided that the cherry should be called Skylar Rae.
Earlier this year, the Tip Top cherry cultivar was granted its own varietal classification by the International Federation for Produce Standards, making it the first sweet cherry to be given its own price look-up (PLU) number in years, officials add. The cherry joins dark-sweet and Rainier as the third sweet cherry SKU in the produce department, and will use PLU number 3448.
Stemilt will market Skylar Rae cherries in two packages during its short, four-week season: a convenient 1.25-pound pouch bag, and a smaller 1-pound clamshell. Skylar Rae cherries will appear in limited volumes in select markets from mid-June to mid-July this season. Stemilt continues extensive plantings of the cherry and expects production to increase significantly in the future as trees come into production.
“The extra sweet flavor and crisp bite of Skylar Rae cherries combine to deliver a one-of-a-kind, dessert eating experience that today’s consumers are looking for. We think Skylar Rae is quite special, and know that after one bite, consumers will love it too,” adds Mathison.
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