2017 Pest Management Information: Weeds, Insects & Unwanted Animal Consumers

POSTED IN For Growers, For Members ON 3/14/2017

Pest Management is an annual challenge for those who love to eat saskatoon berries.  While saskatoons are native to North America, there are several native, as well as invasive, pests that can challenge a healthy harvest.

Saskatoon Pest Management specialist

Dr. Erwin “Duke” Elsner, PhD

Dr. Erwin ‘Duke’ Elsner just released this year’s list of produce-rescuing recommendations, based on Michigan agricultural standards. This includes several organic options. The point of this list is to help growers identify diseases and insects that can damage plants and fruit, and then select responses for each based on the growers preferences and unique conditions.

Part of the effort here is to be very careful to encourage pollinators and other helpful insects. You can find more about how to develop pollinator habitat in our blog posts from last winter.

May you all have more than enough saskatoon berries to enjoy this coming summer!

2017 Saskatoon Disease and Insect Pesticide Recommendations

Saskatoon Fungicides 2017

Saskatoon Herbicides 2017

Saskatoon Insecticides 2017

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.

The Economics of Growing Saskatoons

POSTED IN For Growers, For Members ON 2/16/2016

The presentation “The Economics of Growing Saskatoons” was part of the program of the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference on Saturday, January 30th, 2016.

Subject matter includes:

  1. What saskatoon berries looks like
  2. What saskatoon bushes looks like
  3. Health benefits of saskatoon berries
  4. Growing requirements
  5. Market opportunities for fresh and processed saskatoons
  6. Costs associated with planting and maintaining a saskatoon orchard
  7. Key business practices for successful growing
  8. Essential business considerations
  9. Business planning concepts
  10. Tax considerations
  11. Insurance considerations
  12. Legal considerations
  13. A financial projection example
  14. An introduction to resources that can help


To download the program presentation, go to: SFC 2016 Econ Saskatoons

We had a good group, with many targeted questions. It was a delight to talk through both the questions for which good answers are available and the questions for which good answers are still being researched. 

What we know is that:

  • People that try saskatoon berries almost always want more saskatoon berries
  • Growers with even minimal marketing experience can sell out of their fruit
  • Working together through the Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America we are building a larger market, and working on ways to satisfy orders larger than many farms can fill by themselves

If you are already growing saskatoons, please consider joining the Institute.

If you are considering growing saskatoons, please talk the Institute and our members.

And Remember:

Eat saskatoon berries!

The Economics of Growing and Selling Saskatoon Berries

POSTED IN For Growers, For Members ON 1/11/2016

Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference

Would you benefit from knowing more about the economics of growing and selling saskatoon berries? Lets talk dollars and sense on Saturday, January 30, 2016 from 9:00 AM – 10:15 AM at The Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference, located at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. SBINA will be offering a session entitled The Economics of Growing Saskatoons, which will provide:

  1. A basic list of the costs of developing a commercial saskatoon field
  2. A general timeline of cash flows and important events
  3. Several potential markets for saskatoon berries
  4. Methods to project future revenues
  5. A discussion of relative value of cooperating with other saskatoon growers.

Come meet current growers and learn from those with the experience of walking this path already.


Last Evening’s MAEAP Training Was Tremendous

POSTED IN For Growers, For Members ON 3/27/2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 1.34.02 PMThe Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program is a voluntary, proactive environmental assurance program. Over 2,600 farms in Michigan have been verified as of this date, with many more currently in the process. Thank you to all the saskatoon growers that attended last night’s program. Clearly there are benefits to growers, consumers, the state, and the environment as this program develops. Thank you also to Laura and Jessica for your efforts. Your experience and drive are an asset for our region. The Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America will evaluate ways that we can continue to partner with MAEAP in pursuing our common goals. This program is only offered in Michigan. Each county has a MAEAP Technician that can help farms evaluate their readiness, and help with the verification process. If you live in other states, provinces or countries, you might check with local agricultural extension officer to see if there is a similar program where you live. While not quite the same as being there, you are welcome to take a look at the PowerPoint presentation for the evening: MAEAP overview Saskatoon For more information, you can also go to: www.maeap.org

MAEAP Verification Training Scheduled in Grand Traverse County

POSTED IN For Members ON 3/20/2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 8.02.22 AMThe Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America is teaming up with the Grand Traverse Conservation District to provide a Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) Orientation program on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 6:00 PM at Acme Township Hall near Traverse City, MI.

  • MAEAP is a FREE, voluntary, non-regulatory and proactive program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks.
  • MAEAP addresses environmental risks for the entire farmstead, from safe fuel handling to the proper storage of fertilizers and pesticides as well as record keeping issues related to cropping activities.
  • MAEAP follows the Michigan Generally Accepted Agriculture Management Practices (GAAMPs), which are the standards for Right to Farm compliance.
  • Verified farms receive:

1) A FREE “This Farm is Environmentally Verified” sign 2) Promotion by press releases 3) Recognition by MDARD 4) Discounts on basic liability insurance (Farm Bureau) 5) And more Additional information can be found at http://natureiscalling.org/restore/farmlands/maeap/ or www.maeap.org If you have interest in MAEAP Verification for your farm, please reply to this email to reserve your seat for this session. The informative presentation may take about 45 minutes. Interested parties can make major progress toward verification if they stay after the presentation for about the same amount of time. There is no charge for this program. Hope to see you there!

Growing Wealth As A Saskatoon Farmer

POSTED IN For Members, Uncategorized ON 1/16/2015

The Northwest Michigan Orchard & Vineyard Show hosted a Saskatoon Break Out Day on Wednesday, January 14th, 2015. Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.27.00 AMThe morning’s program included: fruit grading, the Farm Service Agency (including how crop insurance might work for saskatoons), insects, diseases, mechanical harvesting and presentation and discussion by members for The Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America. The available slides for the morning session can be viewed as pdf by clicking on the following: MSU Slides The afternoon program, entitled Growing Wealth As A Saskatoon Farmer, covered fundamentals of business practices, financial practices, tax practices, insurance practices and legal practices to take saskatoon farming from a hobby stage to a long-term, future-building company. The slides for that afternoon session can be viewed as  pdf by clicking on the following: Growing Wealth Slides  

Annual Meeting of The Saskatoon Berry Institute Scheduled for January 15th

POSTED IN For Members ON 1/6/2015

The Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America Annual Meeting is next week!

As outlined in the minutes of the November meeting of the Institute, our annual meeting is the evening of Thursday, January 15th at Red Mesa, Traverse City, MI, USA

We will gather for social time at 6:00 PM. Attendees are welcome to order off the menu, but placing an order is not required.

The meeting will be called to order at about 7:00 PM. One key item on the agenda is the election of board members for 2015/2016. We must have a quorum of members at this meeting in order to hold the election. Nominations will be accepted at the meeting for three board members, each slated to serve a two-year term, before the election is held.

Are you thinking about what you will do in the coming year to make a difference?

This is a great way to build the legacy of the Institute!

Look forward to seeing y’all there!

How To Find Saskatoons in Grocery Stores in Northern Michigan

POSTED IN For Consumers, For Growers, For Members ON 7/16/2014

While we await photo contest entries (See “Announcing The Great Saskatoon Search Contest!”),  we can share some photos of what saskatoon berry displays look like in a couple of local grocery stores.

IMG_0205At Olseon’s Plaza West (Traverse City, MI) the saskatoons are in the produce department wall cooler, next to the raspberries, and above the strawberries.


While the supply is low today in this store, Oleson’s staff report that they are expecting another shipment tomorrow morning.

Across town, the look is a bit different.


At Tom’s East Bay (Traverse City, MI) you will find the saskatoons on a stand next to the cherries and apricots.


Tom’s also provides some information about saskatoons, which was prepared by Cherry Capital Foods.


This is not a complete directory of stores carrying saskatoon berries. Rather, these are examples, reflecting photos that we have seen so far. As always, if you do not see saskatoons, ask store staff members.

If you find saskatoons elsewhere, and you have your smart phone or camera with you, snap a picture to post on this blog, and you may find yourself the satisfied winner of a jar of awesome saskatoon jam!


Cherry Capital Foods Offers Frozen Saskatoon Berries

POSTED IN For Members ON 7/14/2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 3.31.15 PMFor year round use, Cherry Capital Foods of Traverse City sells frozen saskatoon berries in 20# buckets. Frozen berries can be ideal for recipes and processed foods. Currently Cherry Capital Foods has about 4,000 pounds of saskatoon berries available for purchase, as well as a variety of other produce.

Cherry Capital Foods is a distributor, selling to wholesalers (restaurants, stores, institutions). They do not accept direct-to-consumer orders.

To learn more, go to: http://cherrycapitalfoods.com or email directly to: sales@cherrycapitalfoods.com.