Mine did very well this year.
For the first time in 20 years.
Still green leaves and few diseases this year.
Fruit up to 3 cm witch is quite an exception.
I increased the number of plants from 7 to 17 so pollination should be better and it showed.
No fertilizers where used, no chem treatment (of course not!)
I have found an increased amount of bumblebees.
We've had enough precipitation this spring together with temperatures up to 28°C witch is quite high for this time of the year.
Anyone other experiences.
I have had zero success with the traditional Russian honeyberries in this climate which is similar to yours. The haskaps from Hokkaido have done well. There are some good sources in the US and now there are quite a lot of varieties available, some as large as you say.
If you want to extend your season, there are now early and late japanese varieties, although I am not sure how available they are in Belgium. There is a lady in Oregon who has done a lot of work on these plants, and another center in Canada with the more cold-loving varieties. Here is a link to the nursery I used to get my initial specimens. They propagate readily from hardwood cuttings. I think they taste great but then again I eat everything!
This company will ship to Europe apparently.
I do know of some reports from warmer regions that they can bud out too early during a warm spell in winter. This is bound to happen some winters in Belgium. The tops of the branches will then start to flower, but there won't be any bumble bees yet, or a frost will kill off those early shoots to make it a lost effort. Then still the plant can produce from lower parts later in the season, at the right time, but you'll get less berries. There's not that much you can do against that, except getting varieties that are more suited to a warmer climate. I believe the Japanese varieties are, but I'm not familiar with them, nor do I know where they are available. In The Netherlands, probably accessible to you, there's a reasonable range of Russian and Canadian varieties. Some of the newer Canadian varieties are very late, they should also be better adapted to a warm climate.
Of course it's crucial to have several different varieties together, for cross pollination. But two different plants could already pollinate each other quite well, you don't need to fill a complete orchard with honeyberries to get a decent yield per plant. Someone starting out with honeyberries and taking a few plants needs to make sure they flower about the same time. The more different plants you have, the less you need to be aware of that, because there will always be overlap.
In the right climate it's a strong and easy plant, with few problems. It likes fertile soil and moisture when still young, to give it a good start, but otherwise you don't need to bother with fertiliser or other treatments. I wonder what happened all those years it didn't perform for you. Too dry? Sandy soil? Honeyberry doesn't root very deep and takes a while before developing a good root system, so this can be an initial problem, but there must be more to your story than that. I have a feeling you didn't get good info on haskaps to start with, and probably some years your climate hasn't been kind for it. Right now there's a lot of info online, easy to find, and maybe by now you've looked into some of that.
This is a web store specialising in haskaps a bit closer to you: https://www.eetbaargoed.nl/honingbessen/, although with the amount of plants you already have, I'm not sure you'd want more!
I think it speaks volumes for the adaptability of these plants if they're still doing fine for you in Belgium on sandy soil.
Here in Fryslân there are a few commercial Haskap farms, but I'm not aware of any further south. Already Fryslân is too warm for some Haskap varieties. It's a good crop for Poland, and I don't know what the story is for the Scandinavian countries, but in those European climates Haskap should thrive. I believe in France or some French-speaking part of Europe they're also working on varieties that are more suited to southern climates.
I think if planting in sandy or otherwise dry soil I would plant them an inch or two inches deeper. I've seen that recommended for Haskap as a standard way of planting anyway, which I ignored on my heavy, wet clay ground, but on other soils that might be an advise better not ignored. A thicker layer of mulch would also be good.
The size of the berries goes up as the plants mature. Also when developing new varieties berry size has been something to aim for. The wild ancestors of the cultivated Haskap only give small and bitter fruit, not something you'd like to eat, so size and sweetness were key factors when people started with improvement programs.
I've no idea at which point things were 20 years ago compared to now, or what difference you see between your 20 year-old varieties and the newer varieties you have.
Before the Canadians started working on the Lonicera caerulae the Russians had already done a lot of work, and the 'Kamtchatica' in the name of your older plants points to this Russian origin. I believe most commercial varieties you can buy at the moment have a mixed Russian and Japanese origin anyway.
Yes, I also know a bit about the development of the specie. Although we are only 300 km apart the conditions are different.
We often have a mild January and a cold February ( 11 stedentocht? ). So yes winter flowering occurs but is limited.
But we have ( if we are lucky ) hot summers ( 25-30°C ) with normally enough rain. Late winter and early spring are unpredictable. Soil composition also vary's. We have mostly sand but loam is present. Clay is found undergrounds so we have some brickyards.
I live in a region known as 'De Kempen'. Noord-Brabant and Nederlands Limburg also belongs to that region.
In my garden the hascaps are planted around a Liquidamber tree. The tree is pruned every 4 years. But it draws a lot of water from the ground. The under story of the tree is arguta-kiwi and herbs. There seems to be no allelopathic effect.
I did not know that with age the fruit-size grows. This is promising.
But my interest is in taste. Anyone having a real sweet honey berry?
Possibly this is a later fruit than is often assumed. For me it's well after strawberries and also several other berries I've already harvested.
Picture below is today, June 22; the haskaps are still asking for patience. For the sweetest taste I should still wait a little longer.
dirk maes wrote:I've started 20 years with 2 plant, bought at Haeberli, a Swiss nurserie . Both Lonicera kamtschatika, Amur and Maitop. My soil is sandy and a bit dry. I only mulch with grass cuttings. I have always had fruits but they where on the small side. 5 years ago I bought a new plant. No idea what origin but blooms 2 weeks later en does not grow that high only 1 meter, as the other haskaps grow easily 2 meter. Since then the harvest is steadily increasing as is fruit-size. For me its a good early fruit crop , starting early May, with more aroma then sugar. Very few diseases but droughts are not always endured.
Sounds like Amur and Maitop are related, hence the low yield, and that the new plant is unrelated, hence the much improved yield.
I would highly recommend Aurora from the University of Saskatchewan. It's vastly superior to Borealis, Tundra, Honeybee, Indigo Gem, Indigo Treat and Indigo Yum. Aurora is truly sweet not sweet-tart or tart- sweet. And the fruit size is much larger - consistently 3.2 cm.
Some exporters to Europe - Haskap Central, Lovehoneyberry who has a European phone +44 7747 738364, FloraMaxx Technologies and Prairie Plant Systems now Prairie Plant Fruit Trees. I'm not sure about the last one because their website is in transition.
Mike Haych wrote:I would highly recommend Aurora from the University of Saskatchewan. It's vastly superior to Borealis, Tundra, Honeybee, Indigo Gem, Indigo Treat and Indigo Yum. Aurora is truly sweet not sweet-tart or tart- sweet.
Mike, thank you very much for this info, I'll plant some Aurora in the autumn.
This spring was strange at our location since January was unsually warm, up to 20 C during the day followed by serious freezes in February. A super warm January does not happen at all often. Normally we would spend the month by hovering around zero C.
Nevertheless the plants did well. We have Amfora, Wojtek, Indigo Yum, Morena, Karina, Nimfa, Amofra, Uspiech, Zojka and Bakcarsky Div and they are all so-so. Not horrible but not really dessert quality either for my taste. All I can say with a straight face is that they are good for making liqueurs.
They don't enjoy hot droughty summers - which is just inevitable I guess. So we grow them in a part of the property that gets some shade in the afternoon, mulch heavily with cardboard and grass clippings and try hard to remember to keep them watered.
My only bush that's a bit bigger I harvested yesterday. My first year harvesting, as I only started Honeyberries last year. I had expected them to ripen sooner, was thinking June rather than July. Some of the new Canadian varieties should be much later than this Russian, if they're mature I'm expecting August crops in my region.
They could be sweeter as well, those new Canadian varieties, that was an objective of the Saskatchewan breeding project, but even my anonymous Russian is getting the thumbs up for taste. I've had a few people try them and I'm getting positive responses. It just was a long wait for the berries to ripen fully, and the bigger they are, the longer you have to wait.
How do you plan to use the honeyberries, aside from eaten fresh? Is there a recipe available for the liqueur?
It's a good idea to add sugar in steps and taste as you go, otherwise you might end up with a taste like Gummi-Bär.
When you're done with them you can re-use them for adding some color and aroma to any other not-quite-finished alcoholic combination you happen to have lying around... That's what I do.
I would say that haskap jam could work extremely well but one doesn't usually have *that* much of a crop.
My experience is that flowers reliably make it into fruit. If you have had lots of flowers, but little fruit forming, you may have a problem. Were there bumblebees or was it too cold? Did different varieties flower at about the same time? Or were the plants so small that there hardly were any flowers yet? Then they need to be tiny though, because it doesn't take them long to at least produce a few flowers.
It's not a fast growing plant, it's coming from sub-arctic regions, and therefore it is adapted to a short growing season. So only for a short period in the year it grows, and it probably takes 5 years or so before it reaches a mature size.
In The Netherlands we're happy to reach a brix value of 14, while in Canada they regularly measure a brix 18. Also in Siberia they get to those high sugar levels. Once it's summer, they get lots of sun hours in those very northern countries where the berries profit from. They get a shorter ripening period and stay more firm as well.
We cannot beat this in more southerly regions; the berries will ripen a little bit too early for us. Later varieties are our best hope.
My bushes are still very young and then a second flowering can happen. I was lucky to get this, and still picked some berries this month. The ripening process was way quicker this time, at the hight of summer. So I still got to taste some Honey Bee and Boreal Beast. They tasted very sweet.