BioProducts Division

Haskap (Blue Honeysuckle - Lonicera caerulea L.)

Haskap (Blue Honeysuckle)These plants produce a fabulous tasting fruit that is hard to describe. Some say it tastes like a cross between a raspberry and blueberry, but we feel that it is truly unique. There is much demand for this fruit in Japan for the long-held belief of its nutritional benefits. It has been proven that there are several health benefits to those who consume this berry. Haskap berries are high in vitamin C and a great source of antioxidants.  The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, December, 2008 reports the following:

 ... L. caerulea berries seem to be a prospective source of health supporting phytochemicals, especially phenolic compounds that exhibit beneficial activities such as antiadherence, antioxidant, and chemoprotective. Thus, natural antioxidants, natural colorants, and an ingredient of functional foods based on L. caerulea berries look promising as a useful addition in the prevention of a number of chronic conditions, e.g., cancer, diabetes mellitus, tumor growth, and cardiovascular diseases.

Haskap has become a delicacy in Japan due to increased urbanization of traditional Haskap orchard areas. The Haskap breeding program at the University of Saskatchewan has selected varieties from its field trials whose fruit was deemed acceptable to the Japanese market to provide options of export to that country to help supply their demand.  As locally planted orchards are coming into more mature and higher yielding harvests, we have seen an increase in local interest for the crop as well. We think that as this berry continues to get more exposure, demand near and far will soar.

Haskap (Blue Honeysuckle)Unlike any other crop on the Prairies, Haskap produces fruit as early as mid-June. This makes it an excellent choice for those growing dwarf sour cherries and/or Saskatoons. It allows orchard growers a longer season to capture fresh market customers. Also, because it can be mechanically harvested, established growers may be able to use their existing harvesting equipment.

Haskap is exceptionally winter hardy. Plants will over winter in temperatures as low as -45°C. Flowers can be exposed to temperatures of -7°C with no detriment to fruit set. Plants will most often bear fruit after only one dormant season. 

These plants are suitable for both spring and late summer/autumn planting.  Planting 1 – 2 inches deeper than the soil level of the container is recommended to encourage a deeper rooting system and to help avoid possible heaving of the plants.  Suggested plant spacing is listed in the following table:

 

Commercial

U-Pick

Examples

between

within row

between

within row

Haskap

16 ft
(5 m)

3 ft
(1 m)

8 - 10 ft
(2.5 - 3 m)

4.5 - 6 ft
(1.5 - 2 m)

We are pleased to make available to you the selections of Haskap bred by Dr. Bob Bors at the University of Saskatchewan. These selections were released to a limited number of propagators in March 2007.

AURORA - NEW VARIETY! - Aurora is another new variety of Haskap to be released from the University of Saskatchewan. It is quickly becoming an exciting complement to the already established Haskap varieties. It is being described as faster growing with a fruit that is larger and sweeter tasting than previously released varieties. The fully grown shrub can exceed 2 meters tall and may provide full production before other varieties; an important trait for those who are eager to taste this extraordinary berry.

As with the other varieties of Haskap we carry, Aurora is fully hardy to Zone 2 and the flowers can withstand -7 degrees Celsius without damage; imagine having fruit by Mid-late June!

Call 1-306-975-1207 today to get more information on this and other varieties of Haskap and see why this exceptional plant is right for you.

For some cultivar characteristic highlights, see the descriptions below.  For characteristic comparisons of these varieties, please view the following document:

PDF DocumentHaskap Variety Chart

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For more information on Haskap breeding and production on the Canadian Prairies, please visit the following links:

http://www.fruit.usask.ca/haskap.html

www.haskap.ca

Tundra

Tundra has been deemed by Dr. Bob Bors at the University of Saskatchewan as “the most suitable variety for commercial production at this time (2007)". The fruit are firm and do not bleed from the stem end when removed from the plant making the variety suitable for mechanized harvest and Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) processing. It possesses the desired fruit shape and size to appeal to the Japanese market and rated high in the flavour testing.

Borealis

Borealis is noted for having very large fruit with excellent flavor. The fruit of Borealis are not as firm as those of Tundra, hence it is not suitable for IQF. It is probably most suitable for U-Pick operations or the home gardener.

Indigo Gem (9-15)

Indigo Gem produces fruit which are slightly “chewier” than other varieties. This unusual trait may be an advantage for some processing applications. This plant displayed a high yield at the time of selection in the field.

Indigo Yum (9-92)

The Indigo Yum variety is another option for mechanical harvesting.  The berries are of similar flavor to Tundra but slightly more “tangy.” This variety could be planted with Tundra and harvested at the same time.

Honey Bee

The Honey Bee cultivar is meant to be used for pollination of the other U of S cultivars under most circumstances, especially when mechanically harvested.  It could also be useful as a companion crop alongside Borealis in a handpicking operation. This is due to its tendency to hold onto the stem when harvested at a rate of about 40%.  This trait may encourage growers to evaluate the end use of their product focusing towards juice, wine making, or jelly rather than for an IQF product.

This variety blooms at the same time as the U of S Haskap and has also given good fruit set in controlled trials.  It grows quickly and delivers good yields.  Mature height is expected to be approximately two feet taller than other U of S Haskap, but the width of the plant remains similar thus requiring similar spacing. 

Honey Bee holds onto its fruit longer than most Russian varieties.  This is useful in combating losses from pesky birds, like cedar waxwings, which tend to knock off more fruit than they eat wasting the produce.  This trait may also make the variety more effective when used in guard rows to help keep birds out of the preferred main varieties.

More information on this variety can be found on the U of S Fruit Breeding website.  The following link connects to an article on that site with a more in depth description of the Honey Bee cultivar:

http://www.fruit.usask.ca/Documents/HoneyBee.pdf

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