Global production of sweet cherries is approximately 2.2 metric tons annually, 35% of which from European countries. Italy is the top producer in Europe, with 110-120,000 metric tons equivalent to more than 15% of continental production.
Among fruit tree crops, cherry has seen the most dramatic innovation in the last 15 years, due mostly to two factors: a new series of semi-dwarfing and dwarfing rootstocks and a new assortment of high quality and mostly self-fertile varieties.
The new rootstocks have allowed the use of modern training systems used for high density orchards with the positive consequences of early bearing, increased yield per hectare and low production costs.
Two other innovations are worth mentioning: varieties suitable for mechanical harvest by shaking stem-less fruit and the use of plastic films to protect the trees from rain during the pre-harvest and harvest period and prevent fruit cracking.
Varieties harvested without stems have been in the European market for some years now and are destined for increasing success because they can be sold at a much lower price than traditional cultivars.