(July 19) Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers Inc. reached an agreement with Hanford, Calif.-based Warmerdam Packing LLC to grow, pack and market the Sequoia group of cherries.

Roger Pepperl, Stemilt’s marketing director, said the Sequoia group’s three early varieties — glen red, glen rock and glenoia — are an exciting addition to the Washington cherry deal.

“It’s really a neat deal because there hasn’t been a lot of work in Washington on consumer-friendly early varieties,” he said. “This is one of the first early cherry varieties that are both consumer- and grower-friendly.”

He said producers have focused on late varieties in Washington. The Sequoia will compete with the chelan, harvesting as early as mid-June.

The agreement with Warmerdam, which has the licensing rights for the cultivar, allows Stemilt to grow a maximum of 250 acres in Washington.

Pepperl said Stemilt began developing acreage for planting as soon as the agreement was reached in May. Stemilt plans to grow the maximum acreage, but it could be 4-5 years before volumes are available.

When the trees are producing at full volume, Pepperl said the production is about 8 tons an acre.

Stemilt also plans to grow Sequoias in California, he said. Warmerdamn will handle marketing for the cherries grown in California, according to the agreement.

Warmerdam has had commercial volumes of Sequoias grown in California for the past two years, most of which have gone to export.