Courtesy of Northwest Cherry Growers
YAKIMA, Wash. — Lynn Long, a retired Oregon State University Extension specialist instrumental in transforming Pacific Northwest cherries 20 years ago, is the industry’s 74th cherry king.
Chosen by past kings, Long was crowned at the annual Cherry Institute of Northwest Cherry Growers at the Yakima Convention Center on Jan. 12.
Long was hired by OSU Extension as its Mid-Columbia stone fruit agent in The Dalles, Ore., in 1988 and in 1994 was sent to observe and study the cherry industries in Italy, France, Spain and Germany.
“What he learned there was the beginning of the transformation of the Pacific Northwest cherry industry,” Bob Bailey, the 73rd cherry king, said in introducing Long.
Bailey is co-owner of Orchard View Farms in The Dalles. It is the largest cherry operation in Oregon.
“Although we had tested dwarfing cherry rootstocks in Oregon and Washington no one was talking about moving them into commercial production,” Bailey said. “We were an industry producing one variety, on Mazzard rootstock, grown to a tall, steep leader or open vase tree.”
Europe was growing multiple varieties in high-density orchards on dwarfing Gisela 5 and 6 rootstocks. The Europeans were talking about scarcity and expense of agricultural labor and were developing pedestrian orchards, trees that could be picked from the ground.
Long helped the Pacific Northwest industry move in that direction.
Long also worked on cherry fruit fly, obliquebanded leafroller control, replant disease and compost and mulch options to improve orchard soils. He researched new varieties, rootstocks and training systems.
“To date our king has evaluated nearly 100 varieties and selections for potential adoption by the sweet cherry industry in the Pacific Northwest,” Bailey said.
Long spoke about Northwest cherries in 16 countries during his career.
Long was born in Portland, raised outside the city and spent his childhood in the Willamette Valley and Columbia Gorge. He developed an interest in agriculture picking strawberries and as a youngster and by visiting his grandfather’s farm in Alberta, Canada.
He graduated from Centennial High School in Gresham, Ore., in 1971 and from Lewis and Clark College, Portland, in 1975. He studied plant pathology at Washington State University.