On our farm we have been doing a lot of our own Haskap research. We spent a lot of time listening to growers and reading as much available material that could be found. What we discovered was that there is a lack of information concerning many areas for growing these plants. This led us to experimenting in our first orchard to see what works, and what does not work.

To date most of this work remains undocumented, and is mostly in our heads. This is ok for us, but not so great for other growers. Our intentions going forward is to have documented research as we continue to gather more information concerning growing these plants.

There are ongoing experiments in our first orchard, and these are being documented. Most of these experiments take a year or two before we are able to see results.

Haskap Research for 2018

For 2018 we are continuing projects from 2017. These are as follows:

Root development
Continued from 2017. A different type of compost will be added to some plants to compare results. 

University of Sask – Boreal Series of Haskap Plants
Due to the late arrival of these plants they will be planted in the spring of 2018. In the spring we will be adding a limited number of the Boreal varieties to our nursery. As we evaluate this new plant series we will add to our blog. This plant series should be very well suited for Nova Scotia.

Japanese Breeds of Haskap
The expected plant stock delivery was delayed until late fall of 2017. We will be planting the plugs from 100% Japanese stock in our nursery this spring. It will take a year before we can compare growth rates, bloom times and berries. However it is highly expected that these plants will be very much suited for our grow zone (6a).

Early Bud Break
The results of this study indicate that early bud break is not something that we wish to happen, which is not unexpected. See below for details.

Different Types of Mulches
Mulching has been a an going experiment since 2015. After evaluating different mulches we have settled on using wood shavings. These are light, fairly easy to purchase from a small sawmill, and so far the plant growth results with using this mulch is very good.

Holistic Orchard Growing Methods vs. Modern Growing Methods
We have a good opportunity starting this year to compare these two growing methods with plants of the same age. We will be spending quite a bit of effort on this project. This will continue during 2018.

Soil Nutrients
This has been ongoing from day one. This year we have a more focused nutrient management plan and we will be able to see what kind of results we get after the growing season, and soil tests are taken in the fall. We base our NMP on soil tests taken in the fall. Based on these results we start in the fall with lime, and fertilizer applications. We have taken soil tests in areas where our plants have grown the best and we have created a worksheet based on results in these areas. We are always striving to improve our soil nutrients, and this years focus on existing orchards will be increasing the micro-nutrient levels.

Soil Microbiology Activity
After spending quite a few hours looking at our soil microbiology under a microscope, and using basal respiration tests, there is no doubt left that having a strong microbiology in your orchard will lead to increased growth, and berry production. Berries taken from areas with high levels of microbiology were reaching BRIX levels of 18 and higher. The growth on the plants in these areas is also significant. 

For 2018 will be looking into producing microbiology from known strong areas, and attempting to populate other orchard areas with weaker microbiology levels.

During 2018 we will continue to observe pollination on our plants. We have four honeybee hives, and there has always been a healthy bumblebee population. Last year we just had bumblebees, and they did a pretty good of pollinating the plants.

Our second orchard is roughly one mile away from our apiary. We have noticed a few of the honeybees in that orchard, but this year we will see if they are actively pollinating the haskap plants in this orchard. This will help to determine if we will need to add hives in our more remote orchards in the future. 

Haskap Research 2016

Ideal Root Development
Haskap plants develop a fibrous root system. To encourage a more extensive root system (and a larger, healthier plant) we have been using compost and different mulches to see what occurs. This experiment started with a number of plants in 2016, and will be continued in 2018.

The below is a picture of some nice looking, actively developing, haskap roots that were gently dug out of the soil. 

Early Bud Break
In October 2016 we had a really warm period (roughly 20C for a week). Quite a few of our Russian stock Haskap varieties started blooming. This is of course not what we wanted to see. To evaluate this problem a number of plants were marked so that in the spring the new growth, and berry production, could be assessed.

The assessment showed that if there is bud forming, or bud break in the fall, on plant branches. These buds will die during the winter. This then results in no new growth from this part of the branch in the future. 

Tundra haskap plant showing early bud break in October.

Early bud break marked on a Tundra haskap plant.

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