COMPACT STELLA CHERRY
Compact Stella was introduced by the Canada Agricultural Research Station, Summerland, British Columbia about 1973. The selection was tested in the Summerland orchards during the late 1960's to early 1970's. The trees had a dwarfing height and annual heavy crops.
1980, Robert A. Norton brought the Compact Stella to Washington State University to observe during the '80's. The variety was then cleaned of virus but found Little Cherry Virus in plants that remained dwarf. Washington nurserymen continued to seek a heavy production variety without a virus. About 1988, the L. E. Cooke Co received budwood from an eastern Washington nursery, a personal friend.
Our first trees grew differently but two were very compact and had heavy production. My wife preferred these trees, but as they grew all the office ladies went with Carole to pick. You could stand in one place and fill two large plastic grocery bags. The two trees provided quantities of cherries for everyone to pick.
We sent budwood back to USDA to certify virus clean and the resulting trees are now in our main Mother Block Orchard. Compact Stella has been a major seller in the mild winter areas. It is self fertile, large dark red fruit, firm, sweet dark red flesh with good flavor and texture. The tree is a small grower but still out produces our regular Stella and all other varieties. The tree has a mature height of 10' to 12', and the fruit is resistant to cracking and doubling. The key is the Compact Stella is self fertile and is now producing in 500 hour chilling areas. The tree fruits a little later than Stella.
My wife and the office personnel mainly pick Compact Stella because of the good production and quality fruit.
Bob Ludekens 12-30-2013
Over the years as I attempted to photograph all the fruiting cherries (competing with birds, employees and inclement weather) I noticed that I always was able to get good photos of clean fruit whereas late spring storms often messed up cherries of other varieties (splitting, fungal fuzzy growth, etc.). I encourage people to try out the Compact Stella because it appears to me to be much more tolerant and forgiving of wet weather created issues - at least in our orchards and environment.
Ron Ludekens 3-22-2014