Evan Elford, New Crop Development Specialist, OMAF and MRA
Haskaps are beginning to turn colour (Figure 1) which means birds will be more interested in the berries! In Simcoe, we have had ongoing issues with birds in our haskap trial, particularly robins. The goal is to implement control measures before the crop is attractive to birds which may be long before the crop is ready for harvest.
Figure 1: Ripening haskap berries (Indigo Treat), June 4, 2013.
This year we have used 19mm ( 3/4″) diamond shaped bird netting draped over 1.2 m (4′) posts and secured to the ground using ground staples (Figure 2). A partial list of bird netting suppliers is listed on the OMAF website: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/resource/info_birdnet.htm
Figure 2: 19 mm bird netting over haskaps on 1.2 m posts.
Some other bird management options such as visual deterrents and electronic sound devices are outlined in OMAF’s Pub 360, Guide to Fruit Production: Bird Control: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/pub360/9bird.htm
We have also noticed some brown spots appearing on a few of the berries this year (Figure 3). Have you seen similar damage in your area? Please share in the comments what you are seeing in the field and what you suspect to be the issue.
Figure 3: Brown lesions/spots appearing on some haskap berries.The author would like to thank Chris Hedges, Orchard Post and Orchard Supply, for providing the posts in the haskap trial located at the Simcoe Research Station.
We have not seen brown spots on the berries themselves, but did experience a fair bit of mildew. Especially the pollinators, which are closer to Russian parentage (I think). This year we sprayed with H202 early in the season and had no mildew to speak of. The only one we ‘forgot’ was a section with Romeo tart cherry. They had lost most of their leaves by the end of August. These are all in their third year.
Other than the mildew neither the haskaps nor the Romance series tart cherries appear to be bothered by many pests. Birds yes, but we put netting on. 7-8 feet high. Once the outside fencing and posts are in place it takes my wife and I less than half a day to put an acre in netting.
Raccoons could become another problem. Our Cupids had a nice crop this year (3rd year) but the raccoons cleaned that up in two nights. We thought they’d be safe from raccoons because of the tartness (they won’t touch the Frontenac grapes until they have reached at least 20 Brix), but they sure went for those cherries. Climbed all over the shrubs breaking branches while they were at it.
One observation I should not omit to mention. Bob Bors says Haskap need no fertizer. I beg to differ. We had one small section that had a lot of hairy vetch and the main section had none. That small section had at least 10 times the amount of berries and the shrubs were almost twice the size. It is known that vetch will produce up to 200 lbs of nitrogen per acre. Since it always a good idea to keep an eye on your P and K levels as well, people will have to consider how they will want to keep the levels where they should be.
In its natural habitat the Lonicera most likely has a soil rich in organic matter and enough minerals and micronutrients (deposited by annual with deep pen roots a.o.), but planted in ag. soils that may have been depleted of a lot, that may be a different story.