We are very open about how we grow our Haskap plants and below are a few of the key questions that people ask.
- Site selection of the orchard?
- Turning cutover land into an orchard?
- Improving orchard’s drainage?
- What type of soil do you need for the Haskap?
- Orchard preparation and spacing
- How is the Haskap berry pollinated?
- When should I plant my Haskaps?
- Pollinator:plant ratio
- Pollination planting advice
- Should I apply mulch?
- What maintenance do you recommend?
- Does the Haskap berry plant have any specific pests?
- Do I need to prune Haskap bushes?
- Is bird netting necessary?
- Do you recommend deer fencing?
- What natural fertilizing do you apply to your orchards?
- Winter dormancy
- Late summer dormancy
- How productive are the bushes in terms of yield?
- The importance of bees!
- When do you harvest the Haskap berry?
- Harvesting Costs
- Where can I taste these wonderful berries?
- What is a Haskap’s brix?
Site selection of the orchard?
Haskap may be different, but the plant is not difficult to grow. In Nova Scotia, we prefer the soil type ‘Wolfville Loam Drumlins’ or undulating hills of sandy clay loam. However Haskap grows well in many differing soil types, provided the soil meets the needs of the plant in terms of minerals and biologically.
In the establishment years, protection from prevailing winds, during winter, may be recommended to minimize winter injury.
Turning cutover land into an orchard?
Our Seppi Multiforst Mulcher is a multi-purpose machine that works above and below the ground, as a soil tiller, stone crusher and wood mulcher. It easily crushes stones up to 6 inches in diameter, till up to soil to 10 inches in diameter. So it can mulch scrub and stumps as well as grind stones and rocks – two machines in one!
Please click the picture below for more information in our Soil Health Section
Improving orchard’s drainage?
To improve the natural drainage of an orchard. We do not recommend the standard solution of ‘tile drainage.‘ We use a method of ‘Agroplowing’ or non-inversion tillage. This innovative Australian technology allows the hard soil pans to be broken up with minimum soil surface disturbance. This ensures that precious soil is left on the surface with minimal moisture loss. This allows soil to be opened up, allowing moisture, compost tea and oxygen to re-activate soil life. Thus restoring natural fertility and drainage.
It should be noted that hard pans can be re-established quickly unless tractor traffic is reduced. Normally you would Agrowplow every two to five years, this would vary with soil type. We also strongly recommend the grass is cut and mulched to a height of 2 inches before Agrowplowing.
What type of soil do you need for the Haskap?
We strongly recommend that growers carry out a standard soil test in their potential new orchard for its organic, mineral and biological content. This allows any soil amendments to be carried out cost effectively before planting, by direct application or by compost tea. These tests should be carried out on an annual or biannual basis.
Haskap plants will thrive in a well-structured fertile soil of a Ph. of around 6.4 However can grow in a Ph. range of 4.5 to 7.5. The recommended organic content of the soil should be 5 to 10%. The CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity) should be between 10 and 15%. This is simply the measure of the quantity of nutrients and non-nutrients the soil can hold.
In terms of the desired mineral make up. The key values (pounds per acre) a grower wants to reach is in the region of – 360 of P205, 450 of K20, 2,100 of Calcium, 225 of Magnesium,180 Sulfur, 100 salt, 75 of Manganese 9 of Copper, 17 of Zinc and 3 of Boron. Please note that average soil test results are often given as kilograms per hectare.
The ideal soil biology make up of a Haskap orchard should have a ratio of 1 bacteria to 5 fungi. Healthy soil is very important in terms of future crop yields and the quality of the berries being harvested as determined by Brix (natural sugar and plant health) content.
Orchard preparation and spacing
The establishment model we follow in creating a Haskap orchard is that of a vineyard. Why? Because it works and produces in most cases healthy vines and valuable bottles of wine. Remember vineyards grow bottles of quality wine not commodity grapes!
If we start with a Haskap orchard of approximately an acre of (210 feet by 210 feet). We would leave a harvesting ‘skirt’ around the outside 20’ by 10’. This would allow approx. 19 rows of 170 feet in length.
Each row is four feet wide and the row spacing is on 12 feet centers. We tractor till or hand till each row 8 to ten times, depending the quality of the soil and the nature of the weeds. We leave the lanes between the tilled rows untouched or covered by grass to help against soil erosion.
Once tilling has been carried out we add the needed minerals and compost tea to balance and improve the health of the soil before ideally Fall planting.
How is the Haskap berry pollinated?
Haskap requires needs two or more unrelated varieties to cross-pollinate for fruit production. We believe the ideal planting ratio when is 1:6 or 1:8. In a garden environment, mixing the varieties within the row is recommended, whereas in a commercial environment, we are moving towards each row having a single variety, with every 8th plant your pollinator.
What’s a Pollinizer? Sometimes a variety (Berry Blue or Aurora or Larissa or Happy Giant) is called a ‘Pollinizer’, especially in those crops like Kiwi or Sea buckthorn, which have male and female plants. There is great confusion regarding this term with Haskap or Honeyberry and has caused some gardeners to think there are male and female Haskap plants, but that’s not true. There is no separation of the sexes with Haskap plants.
All Haskap berry plants are capable of producing fruit, if they have a ‘Companion’ that blooms at the same time to provide cross-pollination. These varieties must be compatible and the blooms must be pollinated by local or hive bees to set the fruit. Other fruits that need companion varieties to cross-pollinate include; apples, plums, apricots, pears, and sweet cherries. Sometimes in the nursery trade a variety is wrongly called a ‘Pollinizer’ if it works as a ‘Companion’. The jury is still out in the exact number of ‘Companion’ to non-Companion plants.
When should I plant my Haskaps?
While most people think of Spring as the best time for planting, but some gardeners feel that the Fall can actually be the better time to plant Haskap or any shrub. Why is this? It’s actually very simple. When planting a Haskap into the ground in Fall, it may be facing the colder seasonal weather above ground, but over most of North America, its root growth below the ground continues until the deep soil temperature drops below 4c. It is worth noting that even in the coldest areas, the roots have several months to grow before the temperature underground drops to that point.
The seasonal cooler and wetter weather are the perfect time for planting. With an increase in rainfall and cooler temperatures in the fall, less watering is needed. As the plant or in this case Haskap shoot growth halts, it requires less water because the days are cooler and shorter and the rate of photosynthesis decreases. There is however the risk of frost heave which may require “popping” your plants back down into the soil come Spring time
If you plant a Haskap in the Spring, it must acclimatize itself in its new orchard and is expected to begin growing immediately. At the same time of keeping its new ‘Grower’ happy, it has to produce leaves, flowers, berries and then endure the arriving Summer heat. Not to mention the constant battle against the weeds. Plant the same Haskap in the Fall, and a very different story occur. It becomes dormant above the ground soon after planting, but the roots have several months to grow and to become comfortable and strong in their new home. Then next Spring, the Haskap’s is established with a larger root mass in its new orchard or plot and ready to put out lots of flowers and berries, strong leaves and new growth.
So we can sum up the difference as follows: Fall (from September until six weeks before the first hard frost) planting can potentailly give your plant’s roots a wonderful “head start” over Spring planting, with less instant weeding.
The other key component to Fall planting is mulching or remembering to mulch the newly planted Haskaps. A two to four-inch layer of wood chip/compost or clam shell mulch helps maintain the soil temperature from early frost and helps prevent ‘Soil Heave’ over winter. Also in the Spring it helps keep weeds down and retains moisture. In the first two years of a Haskap orchard, by far the biggest problem is weeds. Perennial grasses and other uninvited plants compete with Haskaps for water and nutrients.
Please remember, however, that the woodier your mulch, the more nitrogen will be used by the soil bacteria to break it down—nitrogen your Haskap’s need. Here are the most commonly used nitrogen sources, their pros and cons, and how they’re best used.
Composted manure: The nitrogen content of manure from grass-eating animals varies, but it is a great source of both nitrogen and organic matter. Because raw manure can burn plants and may contain weed seeds and pathogens, compost it in a hot pile or age it for at least 6 months. To use fresh manure, spread it over the soil in the fall and turn it into the top 6 inches a month before spring planting
Poultry manure: Manure from chickens and other poultry are an excellent source of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate. Fresh manure contains a lot of ammonia and is “hot,” so till it in at least 4 months before planting, or compost it first. Pelletized composted poultry manure is commercially available.
Blood meal: This fast-acting fertilizer, made from slaughterhouse waste, is a potent, easy-to-find source of nitrogen. Blood meal can burn plants, especially young seedlings. Mix it with water and apply it through your irrigation system or a watering can, or dig it lightly into the soil before planting.
Fish emulsion: This liquid fertilizer is very fast-acting (and can be quite odorous!). Drench the soil with a solution of fish emulsion every month or so, or dilute it heavily and mist foliage lightly.
Crab meal: This meal, made from shells and offal of blue crabs, is rich in the protein chitin, which enhances beneficial soil microorganism populations; it also suppresses pest nematode activity. Till it into the soil in early spring.
We recommend 3 -4 feet spacing between plants for commercial orchards or four feet spacing for those specializing for hand picked fresh fruit production. The gradient of an orchard is also important when considering the plot for commercial harvesting machinery. Planting by hand is strongly recommended in the tilled rows. An experienced planter can plant between 200 to 400 plants per day.
Haskap pollination is one topic you are guaranteed to get the blood going with most Haskap growers. Not only will you get differing advice per nursery, grower, but also it depends which country you are from.
When we stumbled upon the Haskap berry in 2010. The recommended planting advice we are finding is one ‘pollinator’ or ‘Companion cross-pollinator’ per 9 Haskap plants.
In our orchards in 2011, we originally planted one co-pollinator/companion per three Haskap plants, with the recommended ‘co-pollinator’ being Berry Blue or Berry Smart Blue. The new pollination strategy that we follow for our new orchards is planting a minimum of six varieties per acre for large commercial growers and four for smaller ones. This ensures good genetic healthy variety, greater yield, shape and a good blend of berry shapes. Please see our plant sale section for our latest planting recommendations.
Pollination planting advice
Haskap and pollination are often a heated debate amongst growers and perhaps varies in each growing location.
When we planted our first Haskap test plot in 2010, the standard advice was Haskap or Honeyberries require cross pollination because the male and female reproductive organs develop at different times. Wild or hive bees (one hive per acre) are required to pollinate the flowers. The planting advice was one ‘co-pollinizer’ per grouping of 9 UoS varieties. The reason for the 1:9 ratio was the ‘co-pollinizer’ plant yields were not very attractive and the fruit was not very tasty.
We have continued to research this subject by visiting commercial Haskap orchards in Eastern Europe and seeking further expert ‘Hands On’ advice. Key advice from Lidia Delifield from Berries Unlimited regarding this subject is to ensure that the blooming times of the varieties is the same. In Russia, they plant differing varieties to cross pollinate, rather than have one variety as the ‘co-pollinizer’. She also believes that these variety combinations can be ‘relatives’ and still produce high yields. This advice supports the planting combinations in the Eastern European commercial orchards. In many cases, only two varieties are planted per acre, but higher yields are achieved in those orchards that plant in the region of 5 to 7 varieties.
In summary, our new planting strategy in 2014 is to plant 6 varieties, which include many of the traditional ‘co-pollinizers’, per acre to create a healthy orchard with good varietal health and pollen to create good fruit set. Berry taste and shape are also important in selecting the planting groupings. We do believe that at this stage of the Haskap’s Product Life Cycle. The best tasting value added products will be produced by blending different varieties together, in particular the tarter ones. We are also experimenting next year by planting 19 varieties per acre to research if there is any difference in yields compared to an acre planting of 6 varieties.
Should I apply mulch?
Natural mulch as a weed control and slow fertilizer release is recommend. We use by-products from the fishing industry – scallop, oyster or mussel shells. We create a two feet wide mulch strip around the plant about one or two inches thick. If these are not available, we recommend a wood mulch — such as wood chips, sawdust or other woody residues — as soil-building material is a strategy that promises huge, long-term returns.
Field studies dating back to the 1950s — and as recent as this year — suggest that a high-fiber diet of woody materials is exactly what many soils need. Rotted bits of wood persist as organic matter for a long time, enhancing the soil’s ability to retain nutrients and moisture, which results in bigger, better crops.
But wait: Woody materials are high in carbon and cellulose, so they need nitrogen and time in order to decompose. If you ignore these facts by mixing fresh sawdust or wood chips directly into your soil, the materials will bind up much of the soil’s nitrogen and render the spot useless for gardening for a season or two.
The outcome changes, however, if you add nitrogen or time. For example, when researchers planted a new organic apple orchard in northern Maine in 2005, fresh wood chips combined with blood meal (a very high-nitrogen organic material with a typical analysis of 12-0-0) and tilled into the top layer of the soil — plus a surface mulch of wood chips — proved better than three other treatments at promoting rapid tree growth. And, in less than two years, the organic matter content in the chip-amended plots went from near zero to 2 to 3 percent.
Sawdust has much more exposed surface area than wood chips do, so incorporating fresh sawdust into soil is not a good idea chemically (because of nitrogen tie-up) or physically (the mixture won’t hold water worth a flip). But sawdust makes a spectacular mulch for perennial crops. As long as you scatter a bit of organic fertilizer, poultry manure or other nitrogen source over the surface each time you throw on a fresh layer, sawdust makes unsurpassed mulch for blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, and it can work well with asparagus, too.
Garden paths paved with sawdust-covered newspapers feel like carpet underfoot. After it has rotted, sawdust contributes mightily to soil’s texture, because the spongy tidbits persist in the soil for a long time. The concern that woody amendments acidify the soil is a myth. Only in the early stages of decomposition is there a fast flush of acids, when cellulose fibers begin to degrade. Long-term studies of the effects of wood chips and sawdust in soil actually show a slight rise in soil pH, which is good news for most crops in most gardens. (The lower the pH, the more acidic the soil.)
What maintenance do you recommend?
The key task in the first two years of the orchards establishment is weeding. The old adage of weeding before the weeds appear is very wise advice.
We recommend rooting a 12” strip either side of the 2” planted rows. This is similar to how most vineyards weed their orchards. The central mulched row can be hand weeded or weeded by a Dutch hoe.
Getting to know your weeds can be very helpful in knowing what amendments you need to add to your soil to increase its fertility. Thereby making it harder for the weeds to survive and easier for your Haskaps to thrive! So please don’t shoot the messenger, until you have understood the message!
The grass lanes between the rows can be mowed once or several times a month.
Does the Haskap berry plant have any specific pests?
Haskap has few pest worries given it fruits so early in the season. It does not appear to be a fond favorite of deer. We have had no insect problems at this time because of our emphasis on healthy soil. Birds however, love Haskap and netting and/or some other methods of bird control will be necessary to allow the grower ‘To Sleep at Night!’
The only common Haskap disease reported at this time is powdery mildew. This is usually seen later in the fall season, well after harvest is complete. In these cases, we believe that Compost Tea can easily control or cure this problem.
Do I need to prune Haskap bushes?
Annual tidying up is recommended with Haskap after the second or third year, in late fall when bushes are still dormant. The pruning regime for Haskap is far less than for Blueberries or grapes. In year five or ten, thin out older less productive central branches when bushes become too dense, after the fourth or fifth year.
It is our experience that tissue culture plants need far less pruning or tidying up (remove branches that are crossing) than from cuttings.
What about the birds?
One of the more difficult questions to answer in establishing a Haskap orchard is bird netting. Do you or don’t you?
Our approach is we want to sleep at night and have a crop to harvest. So we will always net. The grape growers need to do it and we feel it will be the same with Haskap berries. There is the argument that because the berries ripen in June rather than the fall. The birds will stay away? We don’t think so!
We would look to install the bird netting posts in the first or second year and net from year two or three.
In 2016 we will begin incorporating acoustic and visual scarers in all our fields. We have purchased an acoustic wailer system from Phoenix Agritech. This system is used worldwide in many agricultural applications and airports! Hearing it in action, I can tell you if I was a bird I wouldn’t be hanging around.
To compliment the wailers, we will be setting up a number of WhirlyBirds throughout the rows. It is recommended 4 per acre, can’t wait to see how effective these are!
Do you recommend deer fencing?
We recommend the installation of deer fencing, however it is very site specific and depending the type of fencing (electric or page/plastic fencing or a combination of both) and the type of animal the grower is trying to keep out of the orchard.
From our experience 8 food plastic fencing on wooden posts at ten foot centres works best for our orchards.
We are also looking at implementing some motion activated deterrents along established deer trails, you know, just to point them in a different direction.
What natural fertilizing do you apply to your orchards?
We naturally revitalize and maintain the health of a Haskap orchard by using differing recipes of compost tea during the season and for differing soil types.
This is a water based ‘living fertilizer’ produced by leaching soluble nutrients (kelp and molasses) and extracting bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes from compost. The compost tea brewing process can be likened to brewing beer or wine and, like these same processes, requires care and the right tea-making equipment. A normal brew takes about 12 hours to make and remains ‘alive’ for about 24 hours.
The use of compost tea is suggested any time the organisms in the soil or on the plants are not at optimum levels. Chemical-based pesticides, fumigants, herbicides and many synthetic fertilizers kill a range of the beneficial microorganisms that encourage plant growth. Compost teas on the other hand improve the life in the soil and on plant surfaces.
By applying compost tea, you boost the number and diversity of microorganisms in your soil. This improves your soil’s ability to conserve organic matter, retain nutrients and hold moisture. More importantly, all these soil health benefits can translate into plant health benefits, because the most vigorous, disease-free plants usually grow in the most robust “living” soil.
The number of applications depends of the soil test. We recommend 85 gallons of diluted (1:4) compost tea, per acre to be sprayed 3 to 4 times in a season.
We are often asked about compost tea receipes and usual responce is to recomend Compost Junkies Ultimate recipe listed below.
In the first year we recommend trying to brew as diverse and balanced (batcteria and fungal ratio around one) a tea as possible and letting Nature select what she needs at that given time. The more diverse the set of microbes in your tea, the better chance you’re going to provide your soils with the needed beneficial organisms. Once this has been achived you can alter the tea type to the specific needs of your crop or plants.
Receipe Source: Compost Junkie
Annual plants, such as vegetables, prefer a more bacterial-dominated soil, whereas, trees prefer a more fungal-dominated soil. Therefore, you would want to brew compost tea that is more bacterial-dominated for your vegetables, and tea that is more fungal-dominated for your trees.
To complicate things a little further, the type of tea you make, may also depend on the type of soil in your garden; so you must consider two variables: plant type and soil type. This may seem a little confusing at the moment, but just keep reading and soon it will all make sense.
There is one thing to always remember when working with any compost tea recipe: mother nature is very forgiving. If, by accident, you apply a fungal-dominated tea to a bacteria-loving plant, you’re not going to harm it; However, your plant won’t benefit as much as if you had applied a bacterial-dominated tea.
Okay, let’s get started, If you know what type of plant your are growing, than it’s easier to determine which ingredients to include in your compost tea recipe.
|Type of Plant||Type of Tea|
|Most brassicas||Highly Bacterial|
|Vegetables, Grasses||Moderately Bacterial|
|Berries||Balanced Bacteria to Fungi|
|Deciduous Trees||Moderately Fungal|
|Coniferous Trees||Highly Fungal|
What if your specific plant is not included in the above list? Simply find the type of plant that is most similar to the one you want to grow, and use it as a guide. For example, if you want to apply compost tea to a bed of perennial flowers, we would suggest using a more balanced (equal bacteria to fungi) compost tea recipe.
Without going into too much detail about specific teas for specific soil types, we would just like to point out two important things:
First, if you’re growing any type of plant in really sandy soils, you would benefit from applying fungal-dominated teas. Fungi help to build soil structure, which is always needed in sandy soils. Otherwise, we suggest you cater your tea to the type of plant, as shown in the table above.
Second, don’t be afraid to experiment. If you apply several bacterial-dominated teas, and nothing seems to happen, try a fungal tea for a couple applications.
The Most Important Ingredient
The most important ingredient in determining which type of tea you produce is your compost. Your compost will ALWAYS be the biggest factor in determining whether you brew a balanced tea, or a tea dominated by bacteria or fungi. If your compost doesn’t have any fungi in it, and you don’t add any, then there is no way your finished compost tea will have fungi in it.
So how do you make each type of compost?
Each of the different types of compost are determined by their initial ingredients. Bacterial-dominated compost begins with materials that have a lower carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N); whereas, fungal-dominated compost begins with materials that have a higher C:N. Said another way, the more fungi you want in your compost, the more woody materials you are going to have to include.
For example, bacterial compost can be made using 30% dry straw (brown material), 45% alfalfa (green material), and 25% manure; whereas, fungal compost can be made using 45% dry straw, 30% alfalfa, and 25% manure. If you would like to create a more balanced compost, we suggest using 35% dry straw, 35% alfalfa, and 30% manure. To learn more about proper carbon to nitrogen ratios, please visit our compost ingredients page.
The Common Compost Tea Recipe Ingredients
|White Sugar||Bacteria||Maple Syrup||Bacteria|
|Corn Syrup||Bacteria||Cane Sugar||Bacteria|
|Fruit Pulp||Bacteria/Fungi||Fish Hydrolysate||Fungi|
|Humic Acids||Bacteria/Fungi||Soybean Meal||Fungi|
Note – Fungi like to attach to the surfaces of various ingredients while they grow. Some of the above ingredients feed bacteria, and also provide surfaces for fungi to attach too (e.g. kelp).
Compost Tea’s Ultimate Recipe – Please note, the amounts indicated in the following recipe are intended for a 5-gallon brewer.
– 1/4 cup bacterial-dominated compost (usually vermicastings)
– 1/4 cup fungal-dominated compost
– 1/4 cup garden soil
– 1/4 cup forest soil
– 1.5 ounce of soluble unsulphured black-strap molasses
– 1 ounce maple syrup
– 1 ounce of soluble kelp
– 1 ounce humic acids
– 1 ounce fish hydrolysate
– 3 tablespoons rock dust
LaHave comment: If you do have a fungal-dominated compost to hand, we would replace it with forest soil.
Of the Lonicera (blue honeysuckle) species, the Lonicera caerulae (Haskap) varieties has the shortest dormancy period and a longer life cycle. Winter dormancy is important to prevent a strong second flowering that can begin in late August and end into late November. Fall flowers differ from those in the spring. At that time, mixed buds with both flowers and leaves emerge together. By contrast in the fall only flowers open without leaves.
We believe that the Haskap plant grows best in zones 0 to 8. This is being continually tweaked as growers experiment with the plant and specific varieties.
Late summer dormancy
Depending on the varieties, many new Haskap growers can go into ‘Haskap Shock’ in late summer, especially newly planted ones. This early leaf drop is normal and please do not worry. The plants are still very much alive. This occurrence is more common with Russian, than with the Japanese varieties.
We have found the earlier the plants awake in the spring. The earlier they go to sleep in the fall and vice versa.
How productive are the bushes in terms of yield?
Haskap will fruit after the first year (5 to 10 berries) but does not generally produce any significant commercial amount of fruit until years three to four after planting.
Yields of 12 lbs. per bush have been reported after five years. LaHave models for an average yield of 8 lbs in our own budgets, but newer varieties are forcast to produce up to 15 lbs per plant for a four to five year old bush. A well-tended Haskap plant should be expected to stay productive for 20 to 40 years.
Be patient when approaching harvest – berries will turn purple-blue but should not be picked until the inside flesh is purple and the Brix is above 15.
The importance of bees!
The health of the orchard is measured by the health of the hive that is permanently located in it. We recommend two hives for one acre orchards and 20 hives for 20 acre orchards (one hive per acre).
The honey produced by a hive will normally cover its annual running costs. There is a lot of debate whether the honey or hive bees are a wake early enough to pollinate the early Haskap flowers (late April) and it is down entirely to bumble and native bees.
We believe that it is best to encourage all species of bee into your orchard. Thus encouraging healthy pollination and good fruit set.
In 2016 we will be encouraging natural pollinators to stop by and visit by planting wild flower gardens and green corridors. We have also built “condos” for these lone pollinators by simply drilling holes into the ends of unused posts.
When do you harvest the Haskap berry?
Typically Haskap are now being harvested the last week of June, first week of July in Nova Scotia. Some varieties can be shaken off or hand picked, but mechanical harvesting is our preferred option. The same harvesting equipment used for high bush blueberries, raspberries and black currants can be applied to the Haskap Berry. Also it does not compete with these berries given the differing harvest time.
The art of telling whether a Haskap is ready for eating is different but not difficult. Having spent the last two weeks harvesting, tasting and testing Brix numbers in Eastern Europe. I feel I am well qualified or better qualified to answer this ‘tricky’ question.
The key point to remember is that the berry is not always ready to eat just because it has turned blue. By combining local taste knowledge with Brix testing on 5 and 10 year old plants, we have drawn up our “Haskap Ripe or Not” table. These numbers may differ because of plant age or soil conditions, but seem to hold true in our one to two year old orchards in Nova Scotia.
Berries Ripe and Ready to Harvest
- Great Tasting Sweet/Zing Haskap: Brix 15 to 21
- Sweet/Tart Tasting Haskap: Brix 14
Nearly Ripe – one or two weeks away
- Tart Tasting Haskap: Brix 12 to 13
Not Ripe – two to three weeks away
- Not Ripe Haskap: below Brix 12
Hope this helps and please drop us an email of the Brix levels of your great tasting Haskap berries! For comparison purposes, here is the Brix index for Blueberries: Poor 8, Average 12, Good 14 and Excellent 18 and Strawberries: Poor 6, Average 8, Good 12 and Excellent 14.
What is a Haskap’s brix?
To us Brix = Quality and allows a grower to easily and cost effectively measure the health of the orchard and each Haskap plant.
So what is Brix? The quality of the fruit and vegetable correlates to the amount of dissolved solids in a plants sap or fresh juice.
Professor A.F.W. Brix was asked in the 19th Century by the winemakers of Europe to help them to predict which of the various grape juices would make the best wine. He was honoured by having this measure named after him.
What does it measure? It measures the percentage of solids in a given weight of plant juice. It is often expressed as ‘Brix equals the percentage of sugars.’ However the confusion arises as the term ‘sugars’ can vary widely. So the true definition of Brix is it is a summation of the pounds of sucrose, fructose, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, hormones and other solids in 100g of any particular plant juice or sap.
How can a grower measure it? With a refractometer, this is an optical device that takes advantage of the fact that light passing through a liquid bends or refracts. Thicker or more dense liquids refract more (higher brix). This is an extremely exact method and no fruit grower should be without one.
Today’s hand refractometers are similar to a five or six inch long telescope, but it has a prism at the end opposite the viewfinder. A calibrated hand refractometer allows determination of a reading or degree brix when you place a drop of juice on the prism and flatten it with the attached cover plate. It costs about $70.
Brix levels of common crops
A good Haskap berry picker can pick up to 3 to 5kg or 6.6 to 11 pounds per hour. Therefore 28 workers working 8 hours a day for 4 days could hand pick an acre of berries. The cost per pound for hand picking is about $1 to $1.20 a pound or approximately $8,800 an acre.
The advantage of a mechanical harvester is that you know it will turn up on harvest day! We are leaning towards a Joanna Premium, but have yet to make our final decesion!
The picking speed is can be about one mile per hour and can harvest about 10 acres a day. The basic formula is a mechanical harvester becomes economic at 10 acres and one harvester per 40-acre orchard.
A new mechanical self propelled harvester costs in the region of $150,000 and harvester machine rentals in the berry state of Washington are around $3,500 per 400 hours. A smaller tractor pulled version costs in the region of $75,000.
Where can I taste these wonderful berries?
Make sure to visit our Haskap Information and Retail Centre in beautiful Mahone Bay Nova Scotia. Come in and sample our delicious products and check out all of our haskap items from jams and juices to lip balm and body scrub to our haskap gin.
You can also visit our Sister web site – haskapa.com – for our branded ‘haskapa’ products, including our award winning haskapa juice.
HASKAP OR HONEYBERRY?
Haskaps and Honeyberries are related and are found in the honeysuckle family. Both belong to the genus Lonicera and species caerulea, but are divided into different subspecies. Because Haskap and Honeyberry are common names, there is sometimes confusion over naming. In general, Honeyberry refers to Russian varieties –Lonicera caerulea L. subspecies kamtshatica, edulis, boczkarnikovae. Haskap is the name used in Japan and refers to Lonicera caerulea subspecies emphylocalyx.