How to grow Haskaps for best fruit production

Haskap berries are one of the rising stars of berry fruits in the Canadian marketplace. Haskaps are known by many names, including: Honeyberries, Edible Honeysuckles, Blue Honeysuckles, Sweet Berry or even the Canadian Honey Berry. The fruit of these delicious berries resemble a cross between a blueberry and a long grape. Originating from Siberia, their flavour is a combination between a raspberry and blueberry. Research has shown that this fruit has higher levels of anti-oxidants than the blueberry. Haskaps can be used in the same way you would other berries: fresh eating, jams and preserves, baking and even a juice.

Honeyberry plants produce best where there is 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Plants can thrive in less light but harvest may be reduced. They prefer soils that are rich, moist and well drained. Haskaps are more tolerant of soil acidity and can be grown in a wider range of soils than Blueberries (ph 5 - 8.5). The plants grow rapidly and are best planted 4.5 - 6 feet apart; they will grow 4.5- 8 feet tall.

Haskap plants require pollination, so for best fruit production plant at least 2 varieties in close range to get adequate pollination. Haskap flower early and therefore produce one of the earliest berry crops. Harvest starts usually by year 3 and after year 5 Haskap plants typically produce 7-10 lbs of fruit. Fruit is ready to be picked by mid to late June. These berries will look ripe 1-2 weeks before they are truly ready to be eaten. If the berries are green inside, they are not ripe; when fully ripened they have a deep purple red inside. Some berries will fall to the ground when ready. Birds can be highly attracted to Haskaps, so garden netting to protect your crop may be a good idea. 

It is best to prune in late winter or early spring. As berries produce on one year old wood, remove about 10-15% of the branches each year to create a steady supply of new wood for future years.  If you wish to fertilize your Haskap plants, use one designed for tomatoes such as a liquid 4-3-3 or 2-3-1, or use a powder such as 4-8-4. They are more closely related to tomato and potatoes than other fruit crops. Fertilize prior to planting and in following years in the spring only, so growth can harden off before fall frosts. They are a hardy shrub when it comes to cold winter temperatures, being able to withstand -40 C (Zone 2) plus they are disease and pest resistant making it much easier to grow organically.

There are several Haskap varieties including:

  • Indigo Gem (pollinator plants: Aurora – Polar Jewel)
  • Tundra (pollinator plants: Aurora – Polar Jewel)
  • Borealis (pollinator plants: Aurora – Polar Jewel)
  • Aurora (pollinator plants: Borealis – Indigo Gem – Tundra – Polar Jewel)
  • Polar Jewel (pollinator plants: Borealis – Tundra)
  • Boreal Blizzard (pollinator plants: Boreal Beast (best) - Tundra - Borealis – Indigo Gem)
  • Boreal Beauty (pollinator plants: Boreal Beast)
  • Boreal Beast (pollinator plants: Boreal Blizzard - Boreal Beauty)
  • Solo (self fertile – no pollinator plant needed)

 

Happy Gardening!

 

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Jodi

Guest post by Jodi - Bylands Account Representative

 

Outside of work I spend time with my family, playing golf in the beautiful Okanagan, practicing yoga and of course gardening.  I like to plant annual and perennial containers. I also plant a vegetable garden every year.