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Haskap - Honeyberries  RSS feed

 
Posts: 106
Location: belgium
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Any one growing haskap?
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.
 
pollinator
Posts: 797
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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Dirk,

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.
 
Posts: 75
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
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My honeyberries are still ripening, but they shouldn't last long anymore. There aren't many problems with them here, as soon as the fruits start to colour it's wise to throw some net cover over it to protect from birds, but that goes for most fruit.
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!    
 
dirk maes
Posts: 106
Location: belgium
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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.
 
J Grouwstra
Posts: 75
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
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The original habitat of these plants is around streams in the arctic far north. The test fields of the university of Saskatchewan are on heavy river clay.
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.    
 
dirk maes
Posts: 106
Location: belgium
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Thanks J. Your English is better than my Dutch;).
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?

 
J Grouwstra
Posts: 75
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
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This is only the first year I'm having honeyberries, and only one bush is kind of mature, but I'm noticing it's a slow ripening berry. The berries already looked ripe early this month, but now, 3 weeks later, they still aren't quite ripe. They are still firm, don't come off the bush, and when the wind blew the netting off a few days ago the birds didn't touch them. They look ripe, but if I eat one now it's still a bit sour. The occasional one is soft and also dark on the inside, then the taste is sweet, but if they're still yellow on the inside they're not ripe.

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.

 
 
Posts: 263
Location: Eastern Canada, Zone 5a
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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.
 
pollinator
Posts: 251
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6b
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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.
 
J Grouwstra
Posts: 75
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
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A bit of shade is okay for them, better than full sun. I only have full sun to offer, I splash them regularly, they're still young and haskaps are shallow rooters, so they'll need a bit of help in the beginning.
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.

 
Posts: 78
Location: Hamburg, Germany
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Nifty!  I only put my lonicera in winter before last ( Wojtek, Blue Velvet, and Duet from http://www.eggert-baumschulen.de/ ) and they haven't fruited yet.  At least they're still alive, which is tricky in their boggy/shady area.  It's ok, I'm drowning in currants right now anyway.

How do you plan to use the honeyberries, aside from eaten fresh?  Is there a recipe available for the liqueur?
 
Crt Jakhel
pollinator
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Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6b
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Well... Soak them in schnapps and add sugar Maybe some lemon rind (avoid the white pith as it's very bitter) or cinnamon or cloves if you enjoy those. Keep them soaked for a month or two, in my experience they don't need a lot of time. And then let it sit another couple of months after filtering. Same as any other liqueur really.

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.
 
J Grouwstra
Posts: 75
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
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You should get a decent crop from older bushes. The oldest haskap farm here in my region is reporting yields over 3 Kg from their best performing varieties; especially Silginka, Sinoglaska , Vostorg and Czelabinka do well for them, and judgeing  by pictures I've seen, those bushes haven't even reached their full size yet.
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.
 
Posts: 473
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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i just finished picking my indigo gem /indigo treat. got a few small bowlfulls from each. the flavor was very good. bushes are 4 yrs old. planted a aurora last year. have about 10 berries ripening on it now. much bigger than the indigos. i also have older cultivars of blue bird/ blue bell russian haskaps that are 5 yrs old they produce about a  per bushl but arent as sweet. makes great jam and bias though. smaller berries. thinking of trying the later producing japanese hasps. they say the flavor is even better than aurora.
 
J Grouwstra
Posts: 75
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
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The climate has an effect on taste, too. In northern regions haskap ripens in summer and gets sweeter compared to haskap that gets to ripen in spring.
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.  
 
dirk maes
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What a dry summer can do to haskaps
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dirk maes
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New flowers in august. Normaly in warm winter spells. Maybe because it started to rain 3 weeks ago.
20180826_103926.jpg
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Crt Jakhel
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Crt Jakhel wrote: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.



Adding in the upcoming week: Aurora and the 3 Boreals - Blizzard, Beauty and Beast. Also got a Polar bear as a bonus.

There are going to be so many cultivars now that something's gotta turn out right :)

Currently everything looks like on Dirk's photos above -- been that way for a couple of months.
 
dirk maes
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It is middle of  februari and the flower buds are here to meet the insects.

20190212_114714.jpg
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J Grouwstra
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One year is different from another year. This is the maritime street where I live, picture from last year February 27. A cold month of March was to follow:


This is this year, March 7, same place, looking from the opposite direction (so now also people on this forum get a better idea of these Friesian surroundings):


Honeyberries are very susceptible to how the late winter is in places that are south of what they're used to. Last year, here the cold month of March put a hold on the development of their buds, and only late April flowering started. This year... February saw the first lapwing eggs being found! Never before has this happened in February; the first lapwing eggs in The Netherlands were found here in the north, in Fryslân.

And also my first honeyberry started to flower in February:


That's Indigo Gem, which is not a variety I would recommend in a climate zone relatively warm to haskap. I haven't even spotted bees yet.

Duet is also quite early; pictured today (March 7, 2019):


This Aurora is still very small, also today:


When they get older and have grown a bit higher, they should start to develop a bit later. Anything that's more exposed develops later.
This picture of the Beauty shows that quite well; development is first in the lowest branches:


My Beast grew best and all branches shot up straight away, and now there little budding out there yet.

Growth habit is probably something to take into account if you happen in a relatively warm area; some varieties grow taller than others, and the ones that remain a bit smaller should experience more problems with premature flowering. And if you have plants that are still young and they bud out early; it might sort itself out over the years as they grow bigger and taller.  
 
Posts: 277
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I will attempt to grow some of the Japanese Hybrids (Maxie and Solo) since they should be late blooming.  
I will put these on the east side of my Hardy Kiwi pergola since they will require shade cloth because of the excessive heat. This should give them afternoon shade. I hope that is enough.
I never learn.  Somethings should not be grown in the deep south.
 
Crt Jakhel
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Hi Dennis,

it has been my impression that no matter what kind of help I supply in the form of shading, mulching and watering, when daily temps are consistently over about 30 C = 86 F, the haskaps will go dormant, look dead and wake up next spring. Sadly this means that they only have a very short growing season inside each year so they develop slowly. This is happening at a location which - looking at Alabama via Google - is at least one USDA climate zone colder than you.

Let's at least liven up that sad story with a happy photo.


 
Dennis Bangham
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These are Yezberries and should tolerate warmer climates.  Developed by Dr. Maxine Thompson.  Yezberries are supposed to be derived from the Japanese varieties and Japan has warm climate.  I will grow these where they will get afternoon shade and can use 50% shade cloth if needed.  
I like to experiment.  I found that several raspberries do very well here.  Baba berry, Tay Berry and Boyne Berry all are doing very well with afternoon shade.  I wonder why no one else (that I know of) grow these?
 
master steward
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I know have four honeyberry bushes--my mother didn't like the flavor of them as much as the blueberries she grows, and gifted them to us, knowing that we love them! They're one of the earliest ripening berries. My mom's ripened at the same time as the first strawberries and salmonberries. The two bushes she gifted me produced a LOT of berries. Probably at least a gallon of berries per bush? They seem to like to grow in the same sort of environment as blueberries. My mom had hers growing in what's essential "back to eden" woodchips, and they were doing great. I'm hoping they'll do just as well at my place, too!

As for the flavor, they're very much like blueberries. Maybe a bit more floral in flavor, which I wouldn't have even noticed if my husband hadn't gone and described them thusly.

There are two different types of honey berries, and one blooms a lot earlier than the other. So, if you want honeyberries, make sure you have at least two of the same type! I'd accidentally bought and early season and a late season bush...and got 2 berries from my early season bush, and none from the late one. I don't know if that's because they did cross pollinate some, or if they are very slightly self-fertile. Now that I have my mom's two early season bushes, I'm hoping I'll get a lot more berries this year! And, maybe--just maybe--my lone late season honeyberry will somehow actually produce berries. either via self pollinator or cross pollinating with the early season ones. If it does so, I'll report back!
 
pollinator
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I grow several varieties, a couple of bushes of each in my backyard food forest. They are the first to bloom and the first that give fruits. In my very poor soil (almost pure sand) they were initially slow but they are getting better each year.

20190418042.jpg
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Today's picture of blooming haskap.
 
steve bossie
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give them lots of compost and a good layer of mulch. they love it! mine just starting to come out of the snow and already has green buds.
 
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