POSTED IN For Growers ON 3/15/2016
What pesticide might help in controlling unwanted insects, fungus or weeds on, or around, your saskatoon bushes (Juneberries)? The members of the Saskatoon Berry Institute work with Duke Elsner, Small Fruit Educator, Michigan State University Extension to review their experiences with various products labeled for saskatoons. The results of that joint effort are included at: 2016 Saskatoon Disease and Insect Pesticide Recommendations.
Whether as a hobby, or a business, if you are growing saskatoons, you have probably run into some natural challenges to your optimal harvest. Common challenges for saskatoons include leaf spot, rust, rot, moths, weevils, mildew and aphids. Many of these are common to a variety of berries and other fruits. Especially with young plants (less than about 4 years old), weeds can compete with saskatoon bushes for water and nutrients. These issues can reduce the development of bushes and challenge the size of the harvest.
If you are new to growing saskatoons, and fruit in general, you may want to note that recommended pesticides vary by annual plant stages.
The recommendations are the result of seeking effective means of handling each of these challenges, and include “reduced risk” and organic options that have been found to be effective. Other sources of information for these recommendations include: Annemiek Schilder and Rufus Isaacs, both of The Center of Integrated Plant Systems, and both of whom made presentations to saskatoon growers as recently as this past winter.
To help improve the quantity and quality of your saskatoon crop, you may want to review How to Encourage Pollinators and Improve Your Crop, which was presented by Rufus Isaacs.
Many growers also experience challenges with birds. For this challenge, go to: Bird Damage and Management In Small Fruit.
For more information on the bud and bloom stages mentioned in the pesticide recommendations, and/or to help researchers better understand that timing of plant development, take a look at Saskatoon Bud and Fruit Developmental Stages.
Let us know of your experiences, and tell us about resources that are available for other states and provinces by going to: Contact the Institute.
Best wishes for a fruitful summer!
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:
- What saskatoon berries looks like
- What saskatoon bushes looks like
- Health benefits of saskatoon berries
- Growing requirements
- Market opportunities for fresh and processed saskatoons
- Costs associated with planting and maintaining a saskatoon orchard
- Key business practices for successful growing
- Essential business considerations
- Business planning concepts
- Tax considerations
- Insurance considerations
- Legal considerations
- A financial projection example
- 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.
POSTED IN For Growers ON 2/12/2016
Rufus Isaacs presented “Support Your Local Pollinators” at the Saskatoon breakout session of the Northwestern Michigan Orchard and Vineyard Show on January 13, 2016. This program was part of a “birds and bees’ focus on methods to improve saskatoon berry crop harvests. Rufus discussed how to support native bees through their active seasons, the role and timing of pesticides, and ways to encourage and increase native bee populations around saskatoon orchards.
To see the complete PowerPoint presentation, as a pdf, click on this hyperlink: Isaacs – support your local pollinators 2016 – OV Saskatoon Session
Topics covered include:
- Common wild bee identification techniques
- Nesting habits
- Effectiveness of pollen deposition
- Wanna-bees – other non-bee insects that are pollinators
- Creating and maintaining good pollinator habitat
- Insecticide effect on pollinators by trade name
- Ways to minimize insecticide effect on pollinators
Great job Rufus! This is exactly what our growers needed!
POSTED IN For Growers ON 1/22/2016
Are you experiencing Bird Damage – loosing a significant portion of your cash crop to birds?
There are many beautiful pictures available online of birds eating berries. And I can’t blame them. I really like eating fruit too.
But those birds are less cute when they taking money out of your pocket and, therefore, food off your table this winter.
So how might you handle this situation?
C.A. Lindell of Michigan State University provides some thoughts in the attached document.
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) with 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:
- Posts (primary)
- Temporary Supports
- Cement [maybe, for posts]
- Wire (12-gauge) – tightened after frame is assembled
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
POSTED IN For Growers, For Members ON 1/11/2016
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:
- A basic list of the costs of developing a commercial saskatoon field
- A general timeline of cash flows and important events
- Several potential markets for saskatoon berries
- Methods to project future revenues
- 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.
POSTED IN For Growers ON 1/11/2016
If you are growing saskatoons, or hope to be soon, come join us on Wednesday morning, January 13, 2016 at The Grand Traverse Resort to learn more about how birds and bees can affect your success.
With another season in the history books, growers found two issues were primarily responsible for a decrease in production: 1) birds (who love saskatoons) and 2) leaf spot. Given this feedback, this week’s program has been developed to address those specific topics, as well as optimizing pollination.
The Schedule is as follows:
Concurrent Saskatoon Session Room – Peninsula A
Moderator: Duke Elsner, MSU Extension
Dr. Catherine Lindell, Michigan State University
9:20 – 10:00 Bird Netting Materials and Techniques
Craig Cunningham, Harbor Hill Vineyard Services, Traverse City
10:00 – 10:30 Vendor Break
10:30 – 11:00 A Close Look at Entomosporium Leafspot
Annemiek Schilder, Dept. of Plant Pathology, MSU
11:00 – 11:30 Support Your Local Pollinators
Rufus Isaacs, Dept. of Entomology, MSU
11:30 – 12:00 Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America report
SBINA Board Members and Staff
12:00 – 12:15 Fill Out Pesticide Recertification Credits (###)
Learn more at: http://www.msustatewide.msu.edu/Programs/Details/2087
POSTED IN For Consumers, For Growers ON 11/3/2015
The colors are brilliant. The air is crisp. The nights are longer. Soon the snow will fall, and then the holidays. Yup, spring is just around the corner. Are you thinking about planting saskatoon berries next year? This industry needs more growers to meet current demand. Whether you would grow for fun or profit, this is the time to place orders for next year. If you wait to place orders next summer, you will lose yet another year. Act now to have fruit of your own sooner! This is not to say that you can plant a bush, wait a few weeks, and have saskatoon berries. Most plants, even when well cared for, will not have fruit until year 3 or 4 (after that, they have been known to produce for 50 years or more). There are some options to cut your lead time. Some nurseries will grow out your ordered plants for 1 year or 2 years, reducing the time you would need to reserve space and care for them. However your bushes will still need to winter at least one year on your site before you get fruit. So don’t wait until the right year for a harvest. Plan ahead! There are several sources for saskatoon plants (Amelanchier alnifolia – called bushes in some places and trees in other places). Those nurseries may have varied reputations regarding plant quality, shipping, and survival rates. So do your homework. You can see our member nurseries on our directory page. You can order plants for spring or fall planting. Fall planting often provides stronger plants with less risk of disease because they have been through a season already. You will want to note how the plants are being shipped: bare root, tube or pot. If you can plant with roots already in shipping dirt, they will generally adjust more quickly to your property. Avoid the result of the sign maker who created this: Make you plan BEFORE it is time to execute, and then put it into action. If you have questions, feel free to raise them here, or contact a nursery.
POSTED IN For Growers ON 6/17/2015
Our hearty thanks to all the farms that participated in this year’s Saskatoon Crop Study! We learned a lot, and expect you will too. These results will not be published, but all participants who completed the survey, and provided their e-mail address, will receive a copy of the Summary Report, which is being e-mailed today. We would love to have you join us in our effort to spread the good word about saskatoons.
POSTED IN For Growers ON 5/19/2015
Double click on this graphic to see an enlarged version with all the details.
Come see fields of real saskatoon bushes, including various stages of development, and learn more about how to better grow saskatoon berries, whether you have just a few plants, or many acres of plants