Haskap harvest is underway in Ontario. For new growers of the crop, a reminder that berry colour is a poor indicator of berry ripeness in this crop. Being patient and waiting to harvest the crop will pay dividends in flavour…and hopefully returning customers.
In southern Ontario, the ‘Indigo’ series haskaps are showing signs of readiness with a sweet tangy flavour in the majority of fruit. ‘Tundra’s’ ripeness is variable at this point but the most mature berries are ready for picking. If ripening continues at the current rate, ‘Tundra’ harvest will be fully underway next week. ‘Borealis’ is the latest of the cultivars sampled this year, and still requires time for flavour development.
I have not come across anyone growing ‘Honeybee’, ‘Aurora’, ‘Boreal Blizzard’, ‘Boreal Beauty’ or any non-University of Saskatchewan cultivars. If you have information on how the season is progressing with any these cultivars, please comment below.
A current topic of discussion is the trade-off between dropped fruit (lost fruit) and flavour development. In other words, is it worth it to wait for full flavour development in haskap berries if it means losing the earliest fruit due to heavy wind or rain knocking them off the plants. In most situations I would suggest that marketability (flavour) should take priority over some yield loss. That said, the end use of the particular berries may be a determining factor on the decision to harvest early or not. For example, if early harvested berries will be used for processing with other ingredients, less ripe berries may not be an issue. However, if the berries will be consumed fresh, customers will most likely be expecting sweet or tangy fruit flavour and may take offence to the tartness or bitterness of haskap berries that have been harvested too early.