Some good news for this year!

POSTED IN For Consumers, For Growers, For Members ON 6/23/2018

Well, the weather appears to have been helpful for saskatoons as well as other seasonal fruit.

First off, at least some farms are seeing their fruit come in earlier than last year! Check out our directory for U-Pick locations, and by the end of this week the calendar on our website should also include actual hours for U-Pick for our members.

Secondly, a new dreaded pest seems to have been kept at bay.  While Spotted Wing Drosophila (one of the newer fruit flies in the North America) had very little impact on saskatoons for most farms last year, Michigan State University reports that their development is even father behind schedule than last year, apparently related to weather. For more on that, follow this link:

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/michigan-spotted-wing-drosophila-update-june-19-2018

So plan ahead! Figure out how you can get your fresh fruit before it runs out! Last year the season, for many growers, was only about three weeks long, and much of the fruit was picked before the end of the second week. Best wishes to you all in getting your 2018 supply in a timely fashion, and enjoying saskatoons fresh, and in so many yummy recipes!

Blockchain On The Farm?

POSTED IN For Consumers, For Growers ON 2/9/2018

You have heard of blockchain, right? 

The best known blockchain is Bitcoin, but this is NOT a get rich quick blog.

The concept of Blockchain provides a resource to have access to a lot of information that you wished you could have had in the past. For instance, when you bought that lug of blueberries, did you wonder if they all came from the same source? Did you think about the fact they could have been allowed to warm up during shipping? Did you wish you knew what day that they were picked?  The world is getting closer to providing these answers and many more.

Consumers will, for the most part, be thrilled, but what about the growers? Well, in this case, if you are hoping to work with other growers for a bulk order going to a major processor, you will be thrilled too.

This article, from Modern Farmer, lays out more detail on how Blockchain (even totally separated from financial transactions) will be a big help, but will also change the way we farm every day:

The Blockchain Comes to Agriculture

 

Overnight Baked Oatmeal with saskatoon berries

POSTED IN For Consumers ON 1/11/2018

Hey fans, here is a recipe that practically makes itself, and brings you yummy, warm food for these cold winter mornings!

Warm, yummy breakfast with saskatoon berries

Catch the recipe and the video at:

CTV News Regina

If you are ready to try this out, please let us know, and we will see what we can do to come join you!

Bon appetite!

The fresh saskatoon berry season will be over soon in many areas

POSTED IN For Consumers ON 7/12/2017

Many members of the Institute that offer U-Pick are saying that the opportunity to pick saskatoons may be over within the next 5-7 days.

It may not be too late, yet.

South Island Saskatoons in Victoria Island, BC reports that they still have fruit ready to pick, but not for much longer.

Jacobs Farm in Traverse City, MI has fruit left on the bush as this post is being written, but much of that will be gone by the end of this coming weekend.

Saskatoons arrive in Elk Rapids Farmers Market

POSTED IN For Consumers ON 7/2/2017

UPDATE: Saskatoon Michigan reports that business has been very good and their fresh fruit is now depleted. So they will have no more fresh fruit to sell at the Elk Rapids Farmers market until 2018.

—————————————-

Saskatoon Michigan has a booth at the Elk Rapids Farmers Market, which is open Fridays from 8:00 – Noon.

Fresh berries will last only a few weeks.

Other available products include saskatoon jam and saskatoon pie filling.

Whichever form you prefer, saskatoons are unique, healthy and refreshing.

Jacobs Farm now has saskatoons ready to U-Pick!

POSTED IN For Consumers ON 7/2/2017

Stop by and see us!  Pick a pint or a while pale!  Bring the kids. Fun for the whole family!

Open from sunrise to sunset.

We have some strawberries left too, and the raspberries will be ready soon.

The saskatoons will only be here for about 3 weeks, so don’t delay.

Jacobs Farm Enterprises, LLC

The saskatoons are coming! Come pick scrumptious berries at Saskatoon Michigan!

POSTED IN For Consumers ON 6/23/2017

We have our first report of U-Pick hours for saskatoons! Saskatoon Michigan, in Northern Michigan, is the first to be ready for you to come pick fresh saskatoons. The season may last only about 3 weeks, so make your plans now!

 

Learn more at: http://saskatoonberryinstitute.org/sbi-events/saskatoon-michigan-u-pick-open/

 

Saskatoon Michigan welcomes you

Look for the Saskatoon Michigan sign.

Frozen Saskatoons Available in Michigan

POSTED IN For Consumers ON 8/18/2016

If you missed the fresh saskatoon season, you can still get frozen saskatoons in Michigan.

In northern Michigan individuals, chefs, restaurants and food processors can purchase frozen saskatoons at Oleson’s Food Store in Petoskey – 2000 US-31, Petoskey, MI 49770

In southern Michigan restaurants and food processors can purchase frozen saskatoons from Del Bene Produce.

Frozen saskatoons can be used in sauces, vinaigrette, baked goods, ice cream, beverages and or there tasty dishes.

Saskatoon Berries, like many other common foods, contain cyanide

POSTED IN For Consumers, For Members ON 8/9/2016

The topic of cyanide is not often associated with food consumption, but we have received questions from readers, so the following is an effort to pull together Apple Cyanidevarious sources for those interested in learning more. This is not common dinner table conversation material, but if you are interested in this topic, we hope that you will find this helpful.
 
Saskatoons contain cyanogenic glycosides (mostly in the seeds), which can become cyanide. Saskatoons have this in common with a variety of other popular fruits such as apples, cherries, apricots, peaches and plums, as well as lima beans, spinach, soy, barley, flaxseed, cassava, bamboo shoots and almonds. As a non-scientist, the big question in my mind is whether it is present at a harmful level. Many people who have been eating saskatoons for a life time show little concern. Whether their viewpoint is based on knowledge or ignorance is, I suppose, the core question.
 
Peach Nectarine Apricot CherryCyanide gas also exists in cigarette smoke, the manufacture and burning of plastics, and the film development process. We are not aware of any case where these processes have ever resulted in cyanide-based illness, nor do we encourage the general public to experiment with these situations. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides some material at http://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/cyanide/basics/facts.asp. This site shares a great deal of content with the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry and the National Terror Alert Response Center.
 
Processed forms of cyanide have been used as deadly poisons at various times in world history. While those consequences should not be ignored or whitewashed, they do not represent cases of ‘accidental’ poisoning. It is true that many common substances, when processed and/or concentrated and/or consumed in vast quantities, can kill, including water.
 
We do not have a nutritionist on staff here, so cannot provide our own authoritative answer regarding the risks involved in eating saskatoons, but others have addressed this question in the past, and we list the sources we know about in this article.
 
Cornell Cooperative Extension in New York had this topic come up, and provided some feedback at: http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2011/10/03/juneberries-–-they-go-where-blueberries-can’t/ Please note that “Juneberry” is the name that many New Yorkers use for Saskatoons. This article is packed with good information. Arsenic is covered in the comments below the article, particularly in response numbers 17-19.
 
It would appear that the way the cells in the body metabolize cyanide is key. Some sources look to cyanide as a cancer killer, as does this article: http://www.naturalnews.com/035554_laetrile_cancer_cure_cyanide.html Others say that the healthy cells in the body have little to no trouble cleansing out the cyanide consumed in a ‘normal’ daily diet.
 
Cooking can change the chemical equation of cyanide, so the answers for raw and prepared foods are a bit different. The following article, while not written about saskatoons, refers to the relationship between arsenic and heat: http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/are-stone-fruit-seeds-poisonous.
 
To date, we are not aware of any otherwise healthy person becoming sick from saskatoons, or apples, or cherries (or any of the other foods listed above), because of naturally occurring cyanide, when they were eating a near normal quantity in their diet.
 
We continue to look for information on this question, and welcome your data-based feedback.

Bird Netting Materials and Techniques

POSTED IN For Consumers, For Growers ON 1/19/2016

The following post has been created to capture a talk given by Craig Cunningham, Harbor Hill Vineyard Services, presented to the Saskatoon Session at The Northwest Michigan Orchard & Vineyard Show, Wednesday, January 13, 2016

 

Vermin want to eat your fruit before harvest. Birds, rodents, and mammals are waiting for the perfect moment to gorge themselves on your investment. And why not? It is conveniently located, largely unprotected, and it tastes so good that consumers are willing to pay you just for the chance to have some of their own. Even an occasional human can be found foraging in the orchard. So how can growers protect their crop until the hour of perfection when the fruit is harvested?

I have tried pretty much everything, and the animals have the upper hand (or paw or hoof or claw) Air Dancerwith pretty much every option. Flashy tape does not work. I have tried scary eyed balloons, plastic snakes, owls and other animal shapes, old spray suits, bird noises, cannons, avian control (on a 7 day cycle), four wheeler drivers with shot guns (I don’t recommend this for anyone) and, yes, even air dancers.

All these approaches make you feel better. But they don’t work for very long. You can mix, match, rotate, and move around each of these deterrents, but the birds will acclimate.

The only thing that really works is bird netting. Problem is that it is very expensive and very labor intensive. Be sure that it is cost effective before investing. Know the unit value of your crop and have an accurate yield estimate in any given year. Know your fields too, to better understand the actual pressure (damage potential). I have some fields with heavy pressure each year, and one field with almost no pressure.

Bird netting must be timely – just before the birds show serious interest, and until final harvest is imminent.

Bird netting is often reusable, though the quality of your netting, and the way you care for it, will have a lot to do with how long it lasts. I have some netting that is nearly 20 years old and doing well, though I tell my staff each fall to remove it as if their job depends upon it.

There are 3 types of bird netting that often relate to the durability of the material that they are made from, and reflect their potential lifespan.

  • Black is often extruded polypropylene. This is usually the least expensive option, and the quickest to fail.
  • Green [lighter more flexible HDPE] can tangle easily with bushes and debris.
  • White is also HDPE, and is a heavier woven product. This is strong, flexible, and my preference for bird netting. I have had it last for over 10 years when used only during fruiting season, and well cared for year around.

Whichever system you choose, closure will be key to your level of success. Along every seam (where two pieces of netting meet) and around the full periphery (where netting comes to the ground or any other ‘terminal’ surface), full closure must mean no space for critters to get through. For net-to-net ‘seams’, you will want to find a way to ‘stitch’ the sections together, whether an actual weave of twine, or twist ties, or a system of solid objects such as skewers or plastic clips; hardware of this nature should be available from your netting source. For terminal edges, drape down to the ground and allow 1’ to 2’. Think this through for your unique property before investing in a system. Covering ‘almost everything’ is very close to covering nothing.

There are 2 types of bird netting strategies that help protect from varmints:

  • Single Row Drape-over

With this strategy it is hard to get closure on periphery with varied bush heights. This is a good option for trellised grapes, because the trellis can act as a frame for the netting, though this is hard to work with because it is labor intensive. For some saskatoon cultivars the harvesting can come in stages. With this approach the netting would be removed to harvest, then have to be reapplied until the next harvest.

  • Multi Row Drape-Over (Complete enclosure)

The best option for saskatoons is probably complete enclosure. This system, like building a net room around part, or all, of your field, requires framing to cover multiple rows of bushes. Make sure your enclosure is high enough not only for your plants, but for you and your trimmer, sprayer, harvester and any other tools and equipment you will use during the season. And plan for repeated access. Anchor your posts well, as containment failure (even temporary) is nearly as bad as no netting for the whole season. Between anchored posts you can run 12-gauge wire to hold draped netting, and even include temporary supports along the way. When the wire is tightened (assuming the anchored posts hold – this is a “must”: frame has to be adequately built to host netting) the temporary posts will be held in position if the wire is snug across the top of each support. Keep in mind that you are building a structure not just for sunny peaceful days, but also for stormy days and unexpected stiff breezes.

Net enclosures should be inspected regularly to check for inadequacies and failures.

The Costs of bird netting includes:

  • Framing
    • Posts (primary)
    • Temporary Supports
    • Cement [maybe, for posts]
    • Wire (12-gauge) – tightened after frame is assembled
  • Netting
  • Equipment
    • To install framing
    • To drag netting over the framing (and recover later)

I use the white woven HDPE and recommend one supplier – Michael J Schmidt, Jr. of SPEC Trellising – http://www.spectrellising.com. And that recommendation comes without any finder’s fee for me. SPEC is not always the cheapest, but he knows what he has, what you need, and he is good with schedule.

         Current Sizes and Pricing from SPEC for Woven, Polyethylene Netting

         16.5 x 990     $425/bag

         21.5 x 990     $550/bag

         33.0 x 990     $900/bag

         48.0 x 990     $1375/bag

         66.0 x 990     $1800/bag

 

This product can go back in the bag at the end of the season, and be ready to use in the spring with no winter/moisture deterioration.

I encourage you to employ the various options before buying netting. Some sites have no bird pressure. Don’t assume netting is the way to go for every site. Make sure netting is cost effective. Really. Don’t do it because it sounds like a good idea, but won’t result in increased net income [no pun intended].

In some cases, the pressure is mostly along the edges and one might try limited border applications, but this can fail if species scout beyond the covered area.

Dogs help. Any type of non-recurring activity will help. The Swiss use monofilament, as do some in the Grand Traverse area. This product is often used for seagulls. I prefer the netting.

For comments and questions, contact: craigcvs@gmail.com