The Berry Haskap are the delicious new berries emerging on the market. Originally from the wilds of northern Russian and Japan, this new berry has been developed by the University of Saskatchewan into a sweet-tart, nutrient dense berry, packed with Vitamin C and anti-oxidants. The Association The Haskap Berry Growers Association of Ontario is a non-profit organization of Ontario haskap growers dedicated to the development and promotion of this emerging industry. We are a team of volunteer members who work closely with the Haskap Canada Association (HCA) and The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) to increase joint understanding of best growing practices, pest management and market strategies.
Research and planning are essential to every successful farm operation. It is even more so for a unique, new enterprise like Haskap production. Many people who have backyard gardens have already tried planting a few bushes that are commonly available every spring, from “big box stores”, to grocery stores, to greenhouses and landscape operations. People have been enchanted with the taste and production of the bushes…provided that they were able to keep the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks at bay!
Many of these backyard gardening enthusiasts have envisioned an opportunity to move their love of the Haskap Berry from a backyard hobby to a viable part-time or retirement activity. Perhaps move up to a hundred bushes (just enough for family, friends, & wine), or a more substantial 300-500 plants (half–acre) for a pick-your-own, or even larger holdings over time. It would be fun to develop a new orchard of tasty fruit that nobody else has!
There is considerable access to information on Haskap varieties and history of the plant by accessing the files of the University of Saskatchewan (referencing Professor Bob Bors). One can also Google the blogs of “Love Honeysuckle”, for a view of Haskap in the Maritimes and the world stage. Haskap Canada Association also maintains an on-line format. Haskap propagators across Canada have their own information packages available.
However, this is a cautionary tale! Here in Ontario, we do not have a University or a propagator specializing in Haskap production. We do have a small experimental Haskap plot at the Simcoe Research Station, near the shores of Lake Erie. However, Ontario is a big place, and Haskap have been proven to survive (and produce fruit) from Climate Zone 1 (Moose Factory) to the Zone 6 region of south western Ontario. As you might suspect, the growing conditions are not equal in all of these regions!
BUT…we now have the website of the Haskap Berry Growers Association of Ontario, Inc. HBGAO recognizes that for the development and success of the Haskap industry in Ontario, we need a community forum dedicated to the exchange of Haskap orchard observations from all across the Province. All HBGAO members are invited to pass along their personal observations of their Haskap plant growth and production.
Like “Naturalists”, Haskap Growers are all “Citizen Scientists”. You have invested in Haskap and are willing to take the time to record points of interest, prepare a few notes and even provide pictures. As often as not, your observationswill lead to questions! Remember that from a science perspective, apparent failures are just as important as perceived successes! Traditionally, farmers have always helped their fellow farmers. That tradition will continue with HBGAO. Help us to help you. Send me your Observations and Questions!