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Saskatoon berry monoculture to permaculture conversion possible?

 
Serge Leblanc
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What would be the recommendations to convert acres of saskatoon berry rows into more of a permaculture friendly design?
There is currently no spacing between bushes as they've been here for a while. About 10' between each row. Grass growing all around, into and up in the bushes.
They're still productive but should be much more productive.

I'd like to mulch but some rows are about 3' wide and full of growth so I'm not sure how to mulch into the center.
Was thinking of planting comfrey right at the base but not sure if that's the best way to go.
Still need access to harvest but I could cut & drop comfrey before harvest, blowing that mulch into the bushes?
I'd like to add variety to this 5 acre monocrapculture but what and where?
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Dale Hodgins
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Saskatoon berries are hot right now due to favorable news items and a recent run on the hit show, "Dragon's Den". If you're able to certify organic, your market is wide open. While you're doing a mixed planting, it might be the perfect time to expand acreage as the Saskatoons are thinned. If you could secure a contract with an organic juice maker, you may find that they'll finance the new plan.

I don't know the specifics for Saskatoon berries, but most crops like this, benefit from regular thinning and pruning. You might find that you could plant many more acres.
 
Serge Leblanc
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Big juice contracts would be nice but first things first. I read that we should see a few thousand pounds per acre!
As per this study; http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/fruit/bld01s01.html#Economics_and_Marketing

This season we harvested 190lbs. That's a lot in my tummy/freezer but not quite commercially viable.

We have a lot of Brown Fruit Rot (Mummyberry) which can be caused by high humidity and we did get lots of rain early on in the season.
Welcome to mono crops? I'd like to think that some permaculture methodologies will reduce soil compaction and allow better drainage of heavy rainfall seasons. Next year might be drought, a better designed system could retain water and or taproots could go deeper to get water. Right now, the grass isn't providing much benefit to any scenario we might encounter.
 
Serge Leblanc
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These saskatoons are supossed to be chopped ever 15 years I think to gain maximum yield, rotationally of course.
I'm not too concerned about max yields but more about making them more sustainable and consistent without worrying or relying on ideal weather patterns.

Would a hugelbed accomplish this? I could take the above advice and add acreage space in form of hugelbed a with new seeds & rootstock planted on top.
Saskatoons take several years before they really start producing well and they grow tall. I'd have to essentially bury a hugelbed completely into the ground to allow harvesting.
Is that OK? This would be a 5+ year commitment before starting to see if it's working.
 
Dale Hodgins
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There are bound to be local growers who would have advice concerning the needs of this crop. You might want to hire someone who has years of experience.

Are you in Manitoba ?

Wherever you are, the province will have some resources and they'll be able to link you to established growers. I assume that you recently bought this land. The old owners should have some good ideas or contacts.

Before doing anything involving hugelkultur, you're going to want to know all about the plant's requirements. Many plants from the plains want alkaline soil.

Find an old Ukranian farmer who has been raising Saskatoon berries for 50 years and you're bound to learn a great deal.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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