Open Agriculture. 2019; 4: 676-683. by Maria C.-Y. Leung*, Jessica R.K. Forrest
Everyone who has ever grown haskaps (honeyberries) knows that they attract bumble bees. In Fairbanks, they bloom so early, and air temperatures can be cool, that honeybees can be insufficient for good berry production. Researchers Maria Leung and Jessica Forrest showed that bumble bees rule the day. The authors also reported that commercial berry production Yukon doubled from 2011 and 2016, and the most prevalent berry crop is haskap.
Haskaps are self incompatible and require two compatible cultivars for pollination. and they attract a variety of insects including bee flies, syrphid flies, honeybees, butterflies and bumblebees. The researchers counted and identified insect visitors in commercial fields between 11 am and 5 pm on cool, sunny days near Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Bumble bee visitors ranged from 96% to 32% of all insect visitors. Despite the flower architecture which is trumpet shaped and would hint at butterflies, they were the least common insect visitors. Native insect are very important to pollination in the North. The authors contrasted their results with Saskatchewan where honey bees outnumbered bumble bees as insect visitors on hasps. Anyone who gardens in the North should promote nesting sites for native bumble bees.
Abstract: Recently, the Yukon has seen a large growth in agricultural activity. Crops of commercial interest for local consumption and the export market include domestic berries, especially haskap (Lonicera caerulea L.). However, information on the pollination of these crops in our northern climate is lacking. To begin addressing this knowledge gap, we characterized foraging habits of on-farm bees in southwest Yukon by: 1) identifying pollen collected by bees occupying solitary bee houses; and 2) identifying and counting insect visitors to haskap flowers. Results show that cavity-nesting bees collect a wide variety of pollen including pollen from haskap, and that bumble bees (Bombus spp.) were much more common on haskap flowers than domestic honey bees (Apis mellifera L.), other bee species, syrphid flies, and butterflies. The number of bumble bees per haskap flower was also higher than reported elsewhere in Canada. The ability of bumble bees to be active in cool temperatures and the proximity of the study farms to natural ecosystems likely explain the prevalence of bumble bees in this study. In Yukon, it is still possible to support insect pollinators by maintaining natural areas among agricultural lands. Such undeveloped lands are, at present, typical of agricultural landscapes in subarctic Canada.
DETERMINATION OF SOIL AND PLANT NUTRIENT SUFFICIENCY LEVELS FOR HASKAP (LONICERA CAERULEA L.). 2018. Ekene Mark-Anthony Iheshiulo. Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia
Anyone interested in growing haskaps for berry production will be interested in this thesis from Halifax. Nova Scotia where Master’s student, Keene Mark-Anthony Iheshiulo attempted to find the optimum levels of soil nutrients and correlated that with tissue nutrient levels. This research is important because it gives growers and gardeners a good diagnostic tool for figuring out if nutrient deficiencies or excess exist. It provides a good marker for applying just the right levels of fertilizer in a season and avoiding wasteful applications of fertilizers. Theses are also great summaries of existing literature, and this one is no exception. It provides a nice overview of the haskap, the importance of macro and micro nutrients in fruit production, and soil and tissue testing.
Balanced nutrition is crucial for haskap (Lonicera caerulea L.) growth, productivity, and economically viable commercial production. However, there are no clearly established soil fertility and leaf tissue nutrient sufficiency levels. A field survey was conducted in 2015 and 2016 on 19 farms in Nova Scotia to identify optimal soil fertility and leaf tissue nutrient levels from 148 paired samples. Plant growth rate, leaf size and chlorophyll content were determined for the variety Indigo Gem after berry harvest in 2016. Using a boundary line approach, nutrient sufficiency levels in soil by Mehlich III extraction were 80-280 kg P2O5 ha-1, 260-570 kg K2O ha-1, 1300-4000 kg Ca ha-1, and 250-510 kg Mg ha-1, while leaf nutrient sufficiency ranges were 2.23-2.96.0% for N, 0.22-0.28% for P, 0.84-1.32% for K, 1.63-2.10% for Ca, and 0.14-0.50% for Mg. Further research is needed to validate fertility and leaf nutrient sufficiency ranges in relation to haskap yield
The thesis is copyrighted and will not be shared here but is available online. http://dalspace.library.dal.ca/bitstream/handle/10222/73917/Iheshiulo-Ekene-MSc-AGR-April-2018.pdf?sequence=5&isAllowed=y
This thesis reveals an interesting breeding program at the U. of Saskatchewan to improve the quality of Haskap berries and leaves. Their goal is to increase secondary metabolites or compounds that might be beneficial to human health.
Pie is one of my absolute favorite desserts and I don’t usually stray far from my favorites apple and cherry, but I found a recipe for haskap pie filling that I would definitely have to try if I ever came across it. I always find that from picking or obtaining the berry yourself, it is always that much more satisfying when you have the finished product! LF Fairbanks
HASKAP PIE FILLING
Haskap berries have twice as much juice in them as any other berry! We have found that frozen berries works better for pie filling instead of the fresh berry. If you use the fresh berry they tend to continue to leak out juice after baked.
4 cups of frozen Haskap berries
1 ½ cups sugar
4 tbsp. cornstarch
¼ cup of strained juice.
- Place the frozen berries in a colander to thaw and drain overnight.
- Save the strained juice. One option is to mix the juice with sparkling water on ice with a sweetener of your choice for a refreshing drink.
- Place drained berries in a medium saucepan with the sugar
- Bring to a boil , then turn down to a simmer
- Add the cornstarch to the 1/4 c of juice
- Add this slowly to the berry/sugar mixture while it is simmering and stir to thicken
- Cool when thickened and pour into pre baked pie shell
2013. Haskap Recipes. Available online: Recipes. Accessed 19 Oct, 2016.
This article highlights the life of Maxine Thomson for her contribution to breeding of and popularizing the Haskap. She seems to be a rather amazing woman and this is a delight and an inspiration to read!
Martin, S. 2016. Sweet Success. Available Online: Maxine Accessed 17 Oct 2016.
Here is a link to a journal article comparing native and non-native pollinators of Haskap. They concluded that native bumble bees (compared to orchard bees and honey bees) have the highest pollen deposition per visit, visited the most flowers in a given period of time and could fly at the coldest temperatures, making them the most suited for successful pollination at least in cooler springs. Another interesting thing to note is Figure 1c in the paper. It shows a fruit in which the bracteoles have not fused around the two ovaries of the paired flowers. I find this interesting because I observed several fruits shaped like this and wondered what caused it. Understanding the biology of the flower, the formation makes more sense! KD Fairbanks
Frier, S.D, C.M. Somers and C.S. Sheffield. 2016. Comparing the performance of native and managed pollinators of Haskap (Lonicera caerulea: Caprifoliaceae), an emerging fruit crop. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 219:42-48.
Alberta Urban Garden Simple Organic and Sustainable. 2014. Planting Honey (Haskap) Berries in the Alberta Urban Garden. Available Online: Haskaps This is a video of planting, adjustment and winter care instructions for planting the Haskap in your own garden! Worth the watch and very informative.