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Case Studies

The Versatile Haskap Berry

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Growing Areas and Bird Challenges

Haskap berries, also known as honeyberries, are gaining popularity due to their unique flavor and numerous health benefits. These small, oblong berries, which have a taste reminiscent of a combination of blueberries, raspberries, and black currants, are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. If you're considering growing haskap berries commercially, it's essential to understand where they thrive best and the potential challenges posed by birds.

Optimal Growing Areas for Haskap Berries

Haskap berriesHaskap berries are remarkably hardy and can thrive in various climates, making them a versatile choice for many regions. Here are some key areas where haskap berries can be successfully grown:

Cold Climates: Haskap berries are exceptionally cold-hardy, with some varieties able to withstand temperatures as low as -40°C (-40°F). This makes them ideal for regions with harsh winters, such as Canada, the northern United States, and parts of Russia and Northern Europe.

Moderate Climates: While haskap berries prefer colder climates, they can also be grown in more moderate areas, provided they experience a period of chilling during winter. Regions like the Pacific Northwest and parts of the United Kingdom have seen success with haskap cultivation.

Well-Drained Soils: Haskap berries do best in well-drained soils with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. They are not overly fussy about soil type but do require good drainage to prevent root rot.

Sunlight: These berries need full sun to produce the best yields, though they can tolerate partial shade. Ensuring your haskap plants receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily will promote healthy growth and abundant fruiting.

The Bird Threat: Protecting Your Harvest

While haskap berries are relatively easy to grow, one significant challenge that growers face is protecting their crops from birds. Various bird species are known to decimate haskap harvests if given the opportunity. Here are some of the most common culprits and strategies to mitigate their impact:

Cedar Waxwings: These attractive birds are notorious for their voracious appetite for berries. They often travel in flocks, which means they can strip a bush of its fruit in no time.

Robins: Known for their red breasts, robins are another common bird that enjoys feasting on haskap berries. They are particularly active during early morning hours.

Starlings: These birds are highly adaptable and can form large flocks. Starlings can quickly consume significant portions of a haskap crop if not deterred.

Thrushes: Including species like the American Robin and the Eurasian Blackbird, thrushes are fond of berries and can cause substantial damage to your harvest.

Bird Deterrent Strategies

To protect your haskap berries from these feathered thieves, consider implementing the following strategies:

  •  Netting: One of the most effective ways to keep birds away from your berries is to cover the plants with bird netting. Ensure the netting is securely fastened and covers the entire bush to prevent birds from accessing the fruit.
  • Scare Devices: Reflective tape, fake owls, and other scare devices can help deter birds. However, these methods are often only temporarily effective, as birds can become accustomed to them.
  • Row Covers: Floating row covers can provide a physical barrier between birds and your berries while still allowing sunlight and rain to reach the plants.
  • Companion Planting: Planting other bird-attracting plants away from your haskap bushes can help divert birds' attention. Sacrificial crops, such as sunflowers or elderberries, can be effective in this regard.

By choosing the right growing area and implementing effective bird deterrent strategies, you can maximize harvest and reduce loss due to birds.