Honeyberries

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Honeyberries

honeyberry 


The Plant:

Edible blue honeysuckles are commonly known as Honeyberries, or Haskap. Native to northern Russia, Japan, and naturalized in Canada, this shrub can grow as a low, sprawling or upright bush.
The selections we have chosen generally range in height from 3-5 ft. tall.

Honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea edulis and related cultivars) are generally considered to be of Siberian or Canadian heritage and flower and fruit approximately in season with strawberries. Dr. Bob Bors (University of Saskatchewan) has done a great deal of research focused on the super-hardy Siberian varieties and has collected specimens from the wild, selecting and hybridizing varieties with larger and sweeter fruit, manageable plant habitat and greater productivity.

Haskaps (Lonicera caerulea emphyllocalyx and related cultivars) originate from northern Japan and tend to ripen 3-4 weeks later than the Russian lineage. Dr. Maxine Thomson (University of Oregon) has worked extensively with, and developed numerous cultivars from, this species focusing her efforts on improving the best Japanese traits including later blooming, larger fruits with uniform ripening, and better growth habits.
Currently there is a great deal of research and trialing of blue honeysuckle varieties emanating from these research programs, with cross-pollination and inter-breeding between the sub-species. There is some confusion regarding the differentiation between sub-species, and we have tried to sort out the heritage as best we can. For our purposes, we are currently characterizing species as being “Honeyberries” and then typing as either: early season or later season. Additional information about this crop can be found using the links below.

honeyberry2

The Fruit:

Honeyberries produce deep blue berries beginning with the strawberry season in late June, and early varieties may produce the first fruits of the year. Later varieties begin a few weeks later, while the latest pickings may be into late August. Fruit may be oblong, barrel, or flattened bullet in shape and contain high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C. As Bob Bors describes the flavor… “it could be described as sweet, sour, bland or bitter versions of raspberry, blueberry, plum or black currents and any mixture in-between. The best ones however seem to have a predominantly raspberry flavor with sweetness and just a hint of sour or bitter or astringency to give a little zing. That little zing might be described as desirable ‘mouthfeel’ in the world of red wine tasting”. Seeds tend to be small and unnoticeable. Honeyberries can be used as a fresh ‘dessert fruit’, as fresh fruit toppings, or in sauces, in pies, jams, compotes, frozen as with other berries, dried as with cranberries, cherries, grapes, or apples, or made into wines.

The Harvest:
The fruits of honeyberry are picked after they turn a deep purple- blue. Sweetness increases with maturity. The berries don’t tend to prematurely drop, and picking too early can result in a sour or bitter taste. Fruit should be blue inside when ripe, not green. Berries can be hand-picked, shaken from the plant, or machine-harvested. Plants begin to yield in 1-2 years after planting, and production can reach 3-7 kilos per mature 3-4 year old plant.

Planting considerations:
Honeyberries grow in blue-berry type soils, being a fibrous and shallow-rooted plant. Soil PH should be within the 5-7 range. Plants can take heavy soils, as they are from wetland or marginal ancestry, however planting in sunny, well-drained organic soils should bring more dependable performance. When planting in rows, a 3-4 ft. x 10 foot spacing between rows seems to be the general recommendation. Even watering is quite important, although Russian publications suggest that established plants are mildly drought-tolerant. Honeyberries are hardy to USDA Zone 2; blossoms in spring are also very hardy and can survive temperatures of 22-24 degrees. Pollination Requirements: Although many varieties may be considered self-pollinating and will set some fruit, it is generally considered more productive to have 2 or more varieties from the same blossoming season (ie: ‘early flowering, or late…’) to provide cross-pollination.

Birds and pests:
Birds like to eat Blue Honeysuckles, especially cedar waxwings. Netting may be needed. Placing netting directly on the bushes doesn’t work because birds will sit on the netting and eat. A framework may be needed to hold the net away from the plants, out of the reach of the bird.

Honeyberry Plants
Great Northern Berry plants are sold at Wayside Farm in North Sandwich, N.H. Quantities of some varieties are limited and are subject to current availabilities.

Early season (honeyberries):

Berry Blue
Lonicera carulea edulis (honeyberry)

A vigorous and productive plant with an upright growth habit, Berry Blue grows to be a large variety reaching up to 8 ft. in height, producing abundant, large, sweet and tasty berries.

Blue Bird
Lonicera caerulea edulis (honeyberry)
A medium vigor, upright growing bush that will reach 5-6 ft. in height. Blue Bird bears many large, long, dark blue, sweet and tasty berries.

Blue Nova
Lonicera caerulea edulis (honeyberry)
A favorite from eastern Russia, this attractive, compact shrub grows to about 4 ft. in height and bears abundant crops of medium-blue, flavorful berries.

Blue Sky
Lonicera caerulea edulis (honeyberry)

This unique variety is from the work of an amateur breeder in Siberia. Producing abundant, sweet, and very flavorful fruit, Blue Sky is also an attractive, compact shrub growing 3-4 ft. in height.

Borealis
Lonicera caerulea edulis (honeyberry)
Mature at about 4 feet tall with sweeter and larger berry. This University of Saskatchewan introduction produces blueberry-like fruit that ripen with strawberries.

Cinderella
Lonicera caerulea edulis (honeyberry)
Native to east Siberia, this edible member of the honeysuckle family has been greatly improved. Large, turquoise, tasty berries ripen in mid-June. Very hardy. No pest or disease problems. 3-4 feet tall. Great for fresh eating. More than one early variety is a must for cross-pollination.

Honey Bee
Lonicera caerulea edulis (honeyberry)
A very tall honeyberry producing large elongated fruit. A fairly tart taste with good flavor and depth useful in prepared fruit dishes, jams, wine, and perhaps dried. A great, mildew resistant pollinator of other early honeyberries.

Indigo Gem
Lonicera caerulea edulis (honeyberry)
Great blue berries with good flavor. Can be dried for snacks. Excellent fresh for homeowner or commercial use. Harvest is in June. Mature height of 5-6 feet. Large production of smaller tangy sweet fruits.

Indigo Treat
Lonicera caerulea edulis (honeyberry)

Excellent tasting. Large, elongated, firm blue fruit. Harvest in June. Mature 4-5 feet Similar to Tundra but smaller berry. Upright growing plants are suitable to mechanical harvesting.
Polar Jewel Lonicera caerulea edulis (honeyberry)

Sweet, deep blue berries are produced on this sturdy, compact shrub. It is extremely cold tolerant as a plant but needs another early variety for cross pollination to produce a good fruit set. Likened in flavor to blueberries, the fruit may be eaten fresh or used in recipes, jams and jellies. It is very healthy and Polar Jewel is known as a great pollinator for varieties like Tundra and Borealis.
Tundra Lonicera caerulea edulis (honeyberry)

Mature height about 4-5 feet tall. Firmer skin than other varieties; bleeds less from the scar. Average weight of 1.5 gram is among the largest fruits of honeyberries. Upright growing plants are suitable to mechanical harvesting.

Later season (haskaps):

Aurora Lonicera caerulea emphllocayx (haskap)
Bush will grow 5 - 6 ft in height with elongated oval shaped berries. Very productive and vigourous with sweet and juicy berries.

Blue Forest Lonicera caerulea emphllocayx (haskap)
Large deep green foliage with spreading 2-3 foot tall form. Large, tasty dark blue fruit.

Blue Hokkaido

Lonicera caerulea emphllocayx (haskap)
A very popular variety with Japanese Honeyberry growers, Blue Hokkaido features an upright 4-5 ft. tall growth habit and very large, sweet-tart, crisp and flavorful, dark blue berries.

Blue Sea

Lonicera caerulea emphllocayx (haskap)
Blue Sea is prized for its good crops of crisp, very large, sweet and flavorful fruit. With its 2-3 foot tall spreading form and soft, dark green foliage, it is a fine ornamental for yard or landscape.

Keiko

Lonicera caerulea emphllocayx (haskap)
The fruit is oval, of medium firmness, with a good sweet-tart taste. Very little juice is produced.

Taka

Lonicera caerulea emphllocayx (haskap)
Cylindrical shaped fruit of medium to large size.

Tana

Lonicera caerulea emphllocayx (haskap)
Fruit is tart-sweet, of medium firmness, and oval shaped.


Credit to: Maxine Thomson and Bob Bors for their contribution to the development of Blue Honeysuckle as a new fruit to North America, and for their pictures and content.

Link to Bob Bors introductory article on Blue Honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea) in Saskatchewan:
http://www.fruit.usask.ca/articles/blue_honeysuckle2.pdf
Link to Maxine Thompson introductory article “Haskap Arrives in North America”:
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bzxn1GUd1F03NzE1MGQwODItNTU1ZC00NmQ0LWI5NmMtYzNhNWI1Njk1Nzg5/edit?pli=1&hl=en

Link to Aug. 2009 Growing Magazine article regarding Dr. Maxine Thompson’s research with Japanese Haskap (Lonicera caerulea) in Oregon: “On the Edge of a Fruit Breakthrough”:
http://www.growingmagazine.com/article-3838.aspx

Link to Cold Climate Gardening article: “Edible Blue Honeysuckle: A Fruit for Cold Climates”
http://www.coldclimategardening.com/2010/01/26/edible-blue-honeysuckle-a-fruit-for-cold-climates/

Link to Dr. Bob Bors observations on Maxine Thompson’s research in Oregon on Japanese Honeyberries:
http://www.fruit.usask.ca/articles/haskap_oregon.pdf

Link to University of Saskatchewan Fruit Program
http://www.fruit.usask.ca/haskap.html

Link to Haskap and honeyberry breeding in the future (Bob Bors):
http://www.fruit.usask.ca/articles/HaskapShapeToCome.pdf

Link to Haskap wines:
http://www.fruit.usask.ca/Documents/Haskap/Haskap%20Wine.pdf

© Wayside Farm & Great Northern Berries 506 Whiteface Road, North Sandwich, NH 03259
wayside11@gmail.com

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