Strawberries have been a passion all over the world for hundreds of years. The story is no different in Alaska where strawberry mania traveled North with the Gold Rush. The attached link is an interesting history of the development of the strawberry with one of the world’s top producers, Driscoll as well as conflicts with public and private breeding interests. It evens mentions Alaska wild strawberries! Driscoll Strawberries conducted some research along with the UAF Georgeson Botanical Garden into strawberry plant production in the 1990s. They were interested in learning if producing the plants at high latitudes would improve yields when the plants were transplanted in southern California and Mexico for fruit production. The results were not positive so they moved on to other ideas. It was interesting working with this private company and learning their research procedures that have since catapulted their patented strawberries into world fame. Anyone who buys strawberries at Safeway or Freddies certainly knows their name. It is also interesting to note that Alaska had the first strawberry breeding program at a U.S. University anywhere! It was begun by Charles Georgeson in the early 1900s. Others certainly have lasted longer, but Alaska was the first! We just can’t seem to get anyone in the State to fund ag research on any level. The Agricultural Experiment Station was THE research and development arm for Alaska farmers, and today it is a shadow of its former self.
The Driscoll Story
Gardeners often apply extra fertilizer to their wild berry patches to increase yields in wild stands. This paper summarizes research on the effects of applying nitrogen fertilizer on large and small animals as well as plants. It is an interesting survey of forest systems and not just the wild berry we have in mind.
Influence of nitrogen fertilization on abundance and diversity of plants and animals in temperate and boreal forests
Published on the web 26 July 2017.
Environmental Reviews, https://doi.org/10.1139/er-2017-0026
Aerial and land-based applications of nitrogen-based fertilizers to enhance forest growth makes nutrients potentially available to all trees, plants, and wildlife in a given ecosystem, and therefore may have direct and indirect effects on wildlife and biodiversity. A scientific review of these potential effects was conducted with 106 published studies covering vascular and non-vascular plants, amphibians, birds, mammals, terrestrial invertebrates, and soil animals associated with fertilization in temperate and boreal forests, primarily in North America and Scandinavia. In terms of direct effects, amphibians and domestic mammals appear to be the most sensitive to urea used in fertilization programs. The avoidance behaviour and/or mortality of amphibians in laboratory studies was species-dependent. Ruminant animals, including wild ungulates, rapidly convert urea to ammonia and are susceptible to toxicity following ingestion of large amounts of urea. Feeding on urea pellets by small mammals or gallinaceous birds appears to be minimal as granules are unpalatable. In terms of indirect effects, the majority of responses of understory herbs to nitrogen fertilization showed an increase in abundance. Some shrubs in repeatedly fertilized stands eventually increased in abundance in long-term studies, whereas dwarf shrubs and abundance of bryophytes (mosses and terrestrial lichens) declined. In general, species richness and diversity of understory herbs and shrubs declined, or were unaffected, in fertilized stands. Response in abundance and species richness-diversity of vascular plants to a single application of nitrogen showed either an increase or no change. Repeated applications (2-5 and > 5) usually resulted in declines in these responses. Relative abundance of mule deer (Odocoileus Rafinesque spp.), moose (Alces alces L.), and hares (Lepus L. spp.), and forage quantity and quality were usually increased by fertilization. Small mammal species generally showed increases or no change in abundance; decreases may be related to fertilizer-induced changes in food sources. Forest fertilization may provide winter feeding habitat for coniferous foliage-gleaning insectivorous birds in some cases. Six species of forest grouse showed no response to fertilizer treatments. Responses of soil animals to nitrogen fertilization appeared to be species- and dose-specific and ameliorated by surrounding micro- and macro-habitat characteristics.
Here is a link to an interview with Cary Fowler and Terry Gros about how the global seed vault originated. The interview is a very interesting history.
https://www.npr.org/player/embed/539005688/539059394“>NPR- Global Seed Vault
Yes! a few days ago, the male flowers released their pollen and yesterday i finally found, on a different plant (dioecious) a few female flowers with a last year berry ( which is not a true berry) and a two year old ripe, blue, berry on the same branch.April 29, 2017Along the Takhini river, on…
via Juniperus horizontalis — Yukon Wild Berries
the false toadflax is blooming, May 16 2017.This one found at teapot ponds, but it is very common around here, and i saw it coming into bloom the last few days.I call it timberberry,but it’s prettiest name is northern comandra comandra meaning hairy calyx lobes
via Geocaulon lividum — Yukon Wild Berries
This is a summary of Rehanon Pampel’s thesis documenting bumble bees in agricultural areas of the Interior. It documents species as well as seasonal occurrence. You think bumbles are doing their thing all summer, but there is a definite seasonal pattern to their work.
Here is a thesis that explores climate change through berries near Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada. The program is part citizen science as well as documenting the ethnobotany of the region. It includes great summaries of the most important berries and even some recipes!
Posted in Bearberry (Arctostaphylos), Berry Harvesting, Blueberries (Vaccinium), Cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus), Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), Ecology, Ethnobotany, Foraging, Lingonberry, Lowbush cranberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea), Recipes, Wild harvesting