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Cherries are grown in many parts of the world, but they have never gained the popularity in North America that they have in Europe and the Middle East. Cherries probably originated in the region between the Caspian and Black Seas, where trees still grow in the wild. Cherries were cultivated in Greece by 300 B.C., and not long after they were grown in Italy. The Romans brought cherries to England early in the first century, and there were many varieties by the 16th century. The French colonists brought cherries to the Canadian Maritime provinces. The English colonists grew cherry trees from seed in New England. There are reports that cherries were grown in abundance in Virginia during the second half of the 17th century. By the mid 1700s more than 20 varieties of grafted trees were offered for sale by a Long Island nursery. As settlers moved west, they brought with them fruit trees and seeds of fruit trees, including cherry. Today tart cherry production is concentrated along the Great Lakes in western Michigan, eastern Wisconsin, western New York, and northwestern Pennsylvania. Sweet cherries are grown primarily in California, Oregon, and Washington, but there are smaller acreages in Utah, Montana, Colorado, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania.
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
February 26, 2015