Cherry growers in Washington state's Wenatchee valley are being warned to watch for signs of little cherry disease. In 1933, the virus all but wiped out the British Columbia cherry industry. Some 60,000 trees, 90 percent of the total, had to be removed. British Columbia experienced another serious episode in the 1970s.
Growers need to watch for it and remove infected trees to keep it under control, Tim Smith, WSU Extension tree fruit specialist, told growers at the North Central Washington Stone Fruit Day. Fruit can be flat on one side, late to ripen and small, Smith said. It usually is still pink when good cherries are to a full ripe red. But the telltale sign is a bitter, acidic taste. Cherries with the virus have little sugar.