Haskap’s Elevator Pitch

The Haskap berry is dark blue in colour, naturally delicious and very good for you. It has been treasured and loved in Russia and Japan for centuries, for its very unique and sensuous taste and remarkable health properties. Please click on the YouTube link below for an introduction to this wonderful new berry, our philosophy and its potential.

It contains extremely high levels of anthocyanins, Vitamin C, Potassium, Phenolic compounds and other antioxidants. Recent research shows that Haskap has nearly three times the number of antioxidants than a wild blueberry, making it an important part of a healthy and balanced diet.

A  freshly picked Haskap berry (Lonicera caerulea) produces a full sensory explosion in the mouth. It is tart yet sweet, heady with a robust, complex in mouth sensation and a wonderful finish. We feel the juice has more in common with a fine wine than with other juices such as blueberry, pomegranate, grape or apple.

We recommend planting 1,000 plants per acre and when mature potentially yields 8,000 to 10,000 pounds (in year 4 to 5) of tasty and nutritious berries, harvested in late June to early July. The plants are very well suited for mechanical harvesting and a wide range of quality premium consumer products. These include alcohol based drinks, given its deep intense colour and high level of natural tannins.

It’s Healthy and Naturally Delicious

Haskap berries were known by the ancient Ainu people of Japan as the fruit of long life and good eyesight. There is accumulating scientific evidence that bioactive compounds, such as antioxidants found in berries, have significant potential health benefits. Haskaps contain extremely high levels of anthocyanins, vitamin C, phenolic compounds and other antioxidants.

The table below suggests that if pomegranates are the ‘Rubies in the orchard’, perhaps Haskaps are the ‘Blue Diamonds’.

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What does a Haskap Berry look and taste like?

They are dark blue in colour, oval or cylindrical in shape and about one inch in length. The Russian varieties tend in general to be longer (3cm plus) and larger than the Japanese ones (1cm).

A fresh Haskap berry or juice produces a full sensory explosion in the mouth! It is tart yet sweet, heady with a robust, complex in mouth sensation and a wonderful finish. It’s taste is likened to a ‘Zingy’ combination of Blueberry and Raspberry with a hint of Elderberry.It consistently wins nine out of ten LaHave consumer ‘Tasting is Believing Taste Offs’.

It consistently wins nine out of ten LaHave consumer ‘Tasting is Believing Taste Offs’. Please click here to see our famous televised Haskap, Blueberry and Pomegranate ‘Taste Off’.

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muti Haskap

Do we say Haskap or Honeyberry?

Being polite, we say both, but lean towards the name Haskap! However we recognize that many people say or prefer Haskap and others say or prefer Honeyberry! There is often confusion over naming because of their different regional names. Both names belong to the honeysuckle family or genus species Lonicera.

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Latitude 40 to 55 and Zone 2 to 8

We have tried to combine the three regional areas of Haskap or Honeyberry genetic varieties research (from Russia, Japan, and North America) to help categorize this botanical species and subspecies of genus Loincera.

We invited Honeyberry expert Lidia Stuart from Berries Unlimited to help us create a work in progress framework that shows the differing species and regions. This list will hopefully help the potential or existing grower to discover origins of their Haskap cultivars. The aim of this research is to help us discover the best tasting and productive varieties for commercial growers or home gardeners. In our opinion, there is no one best variety of Haskap or Honeyberry. There are many great ones and in time many more to come. We believe that the berry is best blended and the more varieties, the better to achieve a real ‘Wild Berry Taste.’

We have taken the 1994 work of Maria Plekhanova, who attempted to analyze and re-categorize many of the existing genius classifications. Her work was not accepted but provides an interesting ‘Left Field’ starting point. However, we are very glad of Lidia’s help to guide us through the many twists and roundabouts of trying to compile this list. We believe it gives us a fair and clearer picture of the genus origins and why some people say Honeyberry and others say Haskap or why some varieties are smaller than others or sweeter. 

15 Botanical species and subspecies of genus Lonicera

Tetraploid honeysuckles – Tetraploid Lonicera contain 36 chromosomes, essentially giving them twice the amount of genetic material as diploids. This gives the hybridizer more opportunity for ‘breaks’ or more dramatic advances than can be made with diploids.

1. Lonicera caerulea. – The original tetraploid classification given to the species found in the wild from Europe, Asia, and northern America. Its numerous subspecies have been interbred and have created many of today’s promising honeyberry or Haskap varieties.

2. Lonicera pallasii Ledeb (syn. L. caerulea subsp. pallasii Ledeb). – This grows in forests of northern Russia, in the areas of Murmansk, Archangelsk, and Belogorsk, in the Urals, in lowlands of western and eastern Siberia -Buriatskaia Republic and in areas of Scandinavia. 

Plant notes: The berries are considered sour and bitter and are considered inedible by local inhabitants.

3. Lonicera altaica Pall. (syn. L. caerulea subsp. altaica) – It grows in areas of Altai (a mountain range in Central Asia), where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazajkhstan come together and are where the rivers Irtysh and Ob have their headwaters. Also, it is found in the Sajan mountains (a mountain range in southern Siberia, Russia) at about 3,500 feet above sea level.

Plant notes: The berries are very bitter and local inhabitants regard it as an important medicinal plant. It’s a source of frost resistance of varieties.

4. Lonicera kamtschatica Sevast. Pojark. (syn. L. caerulea subsp. kamtschatica Sevat. Pojark.) – Slowly growing shrub with fruits sweet as much as sour-sweet, without a bitter taste. It grows in Kamtchatka, Sakhalin and in Magadan regions, in marginal tundras, on downhills and riversides. 

Plant notes: The common name for this Lonicera variety is Honeyberry. Early growth from some varieties can be slow. Berries are sweet to sour-sweet, without a bitter taste. It’s most often used as a starting material for the creation of many new varieties. It grows up to 5 to 6 feet (and in some cases 8 feet) and gives attractive yields. 

5. Lonicera Turczaninowii Pojark. (syn. L. caerulea subsp. turczaninowii Pojark) – Located in the areas of Primorsky Krai (capital Vladivostok). This maritime territory is located between the Sea of Japan to the east and northeastern China to the west. Republic Yakutia or Sakha is located in eastern Siberia and stretches to the Henrietta Islands in the far north and is washed by the Laptev and Eastern Siberian Seas of the Arctic Ocean. The Chitinskaya Region is found in southeast Siberia near the Chinese and Mongolian borders.

Plant notes: The berries tend to be all and have a thick skin.

6. Lonicera caerulea subsp. venulosa Maxim. – It grows in regions of Primorsky Krai (capital Vladivostok). This maritime territory is located between the Sea of Japan (East Sea) to the east and northeastern China (formerly Manchuria) to the west. And Khabarovsk (A region in Krai Provence near the Chinese border, at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri rivers). 

Plant notes: For varieties it is a source of high growth, early and high fertility and sweet-sour fruits with remarkable bitter taste.

Please note: Maria Plekhanova proposed to combine number 5 – Lonicera Turczaninowii Pojark. (syn. L. caerulea subsp. turczaninowii Pojark) and number 8 – Lonicera edulis Turcz. Ex Freyn. (syn. L. eludis subsp. Turcz. Ex Freyn) as one wild tetraploid variety – Lonicera caerulea subsp. venulosa Maxim.

The majority of classifications still count number 5 and 8 as separate varieties and do not list number 6.

7. Lonicera emphyllocalyx (syn. L. caerulea subsp. emphyllocalyx) – It grows in Kuril Islands and Hokkaido, Japan. This archipelago is found in Sakhalin province, far-eastern Russia. It extends for 750 miles from the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula (Russia) to the northeastern corner of Hokkaido island (Japan) and separates the Sea of Okhotsk from the Pacific Ocean.-late season

Plant notes: The common name for this variety of Lonicera is Haskap

8. Lonicera edulis Turcz. Ex Freyn. (syn. L. eludis subsp. Turcz. Ex Freyn. ) tetraploid in Khabarobvskii and Primorskii kraii.

9. Lonicera stenantha. – This is found in Middle Asia and blooms late in the season.

10. Lonicera villosa.  – USA and Canada (Ottawa)

11. Lonicera cauriana Fern.

Diploid honeysuckles – Most plants, in general, are diploid, meaning they have two complete sets of chromosomes. Diploid Lonicera has 18 chromosomes, one set of nine from the pod parent and one set of nine from the pollen parent

12. Lonicera edulis Turcz. Ex Freyn. (syn. L. eludis subsp. Turcz. Ex Freyn.) – Diploid species often have  sweet and delicious berries. It grows in the fertile black-earth of the southeastern Siberia province of Amur, along the Amur River (near the Russian/Chinese border) and Hokkaido, Japan. 

Plant notes: The common name for this variety of Lonicera is Haskap.

13. Lonicera boczkarnikowae Plekh. (syn. L. boczkarnikowae subsp. Plekh). This species is found in the Southeastern part of Primorsky Krai (capital Vladivostok). This maritime territory is located between the Sea of Japan (East Sea) to the east and northeastern China (formerly Manchuria) to the west. 

Plant notes: The berries have a flavorsome sweet taste.

Please Note: Lonicera regeliana Boczkar. (syn. L. caerulea subsp. regeliana Boczkar) is sometimes referred to as Lonicera boczkarnikowae Plekh. (syn. L. boczkarnikowae subsp. Plekh.)

14. Lonicera iliensis Pojark. (syn. L. iliensis subsp. Pojark)– Found in  Middle Asia – late season

15.Lonicera villosa – Canada (Alberta)

For those readers who would like to read further on this subject. We recommend you download the paper – Assessment of Genetic Variation among Elite and Wild Germplasm of Blue Honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea L.)

Berry’s Rich Heritage

The berry has a rich heritage in Japanese and Russian folklore. However it was not until 1756, before its tasty and healthy secrets were officially documented in S.P Krasheninnikov’s “Description of the land of Kamchatka.’

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It is believed the plant originated in Kamachata and Eastern Siberia., however its seeds were carried by migrating birds to the Russian Kuril Islands north of Japan and Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest and most northern island, where the first commercial Haskap industry was born in the 1940’s..

The indigenous people of Hokkaido, the Ainu, have named many of the places and plants on the island. Their name for the Haskap is “ハシカプ” (pronounced hah-shika-pu)meaning “the many presents on the branch.” The tree that the Hascup grows on is called the Honeysuckle, or in Japanese “ケヨノミ” (pronounced Key-yoh-noh-mi.) The word Haskap is a combination of Honeysuckle and hashiKAHPu.

In Japan, the Haskap naturally grows from the high mountains on central Honshu (the main island of Japan) to Hokkaido and the Chishima Islands, and stretches north beyond to Sakhalin, North-East China, and Siberia.

In Tomakomai, during the 1920s, Haskap was plentiful. The berries were harvested and eaten fresh or preserved using sugar, salt, or shochu (an alcohol made of rice).The flavor of Haskap became so popular in Hokkaido that by the 1950s, there was a large market for the picking and the selling of these wild berry.

At the start of the 1950’s and 1960’s, Russian scientists found Haskap berries to be rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Its high polyphenol and anthocyanins content is responsible for giving Haskap its deep red colour. It is also claimed the Russian processed Haskap into special drinks for their space astronaut program and named it “the King of Drinks.” In the past three decades, commercial Russian Honeyberry orchards have been planted. They tend to be about 10 hectares ( 22 acres) and are found in the regions of  Altai, in Western Siberia, the Southern Urals, and the north-west Russia.

The first Japanese commercial orchards of growing Haskap, began in 1970, to meet the growing demand from bakeries and patisseries. Further cultivation began in the 1980’s in Tomakomai and Atsuma after the construction of the port and the surrounding industrial parks, destroyed many of the naturally grown Haskap areas.

Haskap’s Canadian heritage

The berry was first introduced into Canada during the 1920s, seeds were introduced from Russia. Although Indigenous varieties of L. caerulea can be found growing in most provinces of Canada. The first varieties ‘Georges Bugnet’ and ‘Julia Bugnet’ were developed at the Agricultural Research Station in Beaver Lodge, Alberta.

More recently higher yielding and  tastier varieties have been introduced by North American breeders such as Dr. Maxine Thompson at Oregon State University, Dr. Bob Bors at the University of Saskatchewan and Lidia Delafield of Berries Unlimited.

Nova Scotian the Perfect Location?

We believe and have been told that Nova Scotia is the perfect location to grow Haskap berries due to its ideal climate, rainfall, soil fertility, availability of processing facilities, and access to regional and international markets.

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There are three growing areas on Canada of 210 growing days, South West Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Southern Ontario. However only one of these requires no irrigation due to adequate rainfall. The answer and we think you have already guessed is South West Nova Scotia.

So why is farm land more expensive in the British Columbia and Southern Ontario? We do not have a logical answer, but it makes growing Haskap here even more compelling.

NS Growing conditions

Our naturally grown orchards

Our growing philosophy in the orchard is always the simple things done naturally. Haskap berry plants take four to five years to reach full maturity and require the same loving care as is seen in many of the top vineyards.They also do not require acidic soil to thrive.

We currently have 40 acres of naturally grown and healthy Haskap plants and intend to have 100 acres by 2017. Our Nova Scotian orchards are made up of many varieties that allow us to blend and create our deliciously tasting haskapa products.

What does a mature Haskap orchard look like? Please click here to find out.

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It’s our haskapa Time

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Our Haskap premium brand – haskapa was created to take advantage of the Haskap berries three very distinct advantages. The first is its sensuous taste; the second it’s natural deep burgundy colour and thirdly its remarkable health benefits.

We have taken a passionate approach to our branding by combining these benefits with exceptional packaging to create a buzz beyond its geographic markets. We feel one look at the packaging of our World Juice 2013 award winning haskapa juice  will show you that this is no ordinary juice. Its rich, deep colours are further enhanced by its shapely beautiful Italian glass bottle.

All of us at Lahave strongly believe people need Haskap berries in thier lives. Our haskapa branded products will allow families to enjoy the natural taste and goodness of our Haskap berries. Please click here to visit our haskapa food and gift web site.

Haskap global production

In terms of global berry production, the Haskap berry remains a very tasty secret. But we are determined to change that given its many strengths.

Commercial global plantings of Haskap compared to Blueberries (290,000 acres) remains tiny. There are around 150 acres in Japan, 800 acres in Eastern Europe, 50 acres in Western Europe and 1,000 acres in Canada (Quebec has 700 acres). But many of these are not at full maturity. This amounts to approximately 2,000 acres in total. This equates to 0.7% of global Blueberry production or 11.1% of POM Wonderful’s orchard of 18,000 acres of pomegranate trees.

In terms of the wine industry, Haskap acreage is a mere growing twinkle in its eye. There are 76,000 square kilometres of vines in the world (18,772,00 acres) or 400,000 global vineyards. 71% of the grape production is used for wine, 27% for fresh and 2% for dried.

We encourage potential Haskap growers to consider the vineyard rather than the Blueberry model. In order to maximize the potential opportunities of Haskap based products rather than constantly worry about the price of berries. We rarely ever hear World renown vintners complain about the price of grapes. Why? Because they grow bottles of wine not grapes.

We show below a price and production chart for Cranberries from 1934 to the near present day. It clearly shows that in the growth phase of Cranberries between 1954 to 1994 was a very profitable period for growers. We believe that Haskap growers face a similar opportunity over the next 40 years.


Haskap’s berry bright future

We strongly believe given the berry’s rich heritage, nutritious makeup and naturally delicious taste, that the future is very bright for this near perfect ‘Blue berry’ and our haskapa branded products.

We look forward to welcoming you at our Haskap Information and Retail Centre located in downtown Mahone Bay and allow you to taste our many Haskap based products. Tasting is believing!

Download FileA Haskap Berry Introduction (PDF file format)