You Can’t Keep a Good Berry Down

POSTED IN For Growers, For Members ON 3/17/2021

The Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America has “restarted” after tough times in 2019 and 2020 stalled all Institute business.

Although saskatoon berries are a very minor fruit crop in Michigan, with less than 100 acres, Michigan is the home of the Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America.  The Institute has been in existence since 2012, providing information and assistance to growers and marketers in Michigan, other states, and Canada (where the greatest amount of saskatoon berry production occurs).  As with many small organizations, keeping things running is difficult, and it got even harder after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.  The Institute held no public events in 2019 and 2020, and the board of the Institute simply retained their posts over these years, as no elections were held.

In late 2020 the board renewed activities with hope that 2021 would be a better year.  The annual membership meeting of the Institute was held on-line on January 21, 2021.  Although attendance was low, important business was conducted.  A.J. MacArthur, a grower from Lachine, Michigan, was selected to be the new president of the Institute.  The board decided that anyone who held a paid membership in 2019, the last year that membership fees were collected, will be granted paid member status for the year 2021.

If you have an interest in learning more about saskatoon berries, growing this fruit or the activities of the Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America, visit their web site at  https://saskatoonberryinstitute.org/ or contact me at elsner@msu.edu.

 

Submitted by

Duke Elsner, Small Fruit Extension Educator (Retired), Michigan State University

Industry Survey Deadline Quickly Approaches

POSTED IN For Consumers, For Growers, For Members ON 6/6/2019

The Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America is reaching out to nearly 300 farms that grow saskatoons for sale. These farms are located throughout Canada and the United States. With the results of this survey the Institute expects to identify: 1) industry wide production expectations for 2019, 2) existing distribution options for harvested saskatoons, 3) issues that most challenge growers, and 4) changes regarding industry players and production since our last survey in 2015. The outcome will be a report entitled The State of the Saskatoon Berry Industry, 2019

Each grower that completes and submits their survey will receive a copy of the complied report.

The deadline for farms to participate in the Saskatoon Growers Survey is Saturday, June 8, 2019.

2019 is shaping up to be a bumper crop for saskatoons. We have not yet received any reports of crop loss due to weather or other naturally occurring conditions.

If you are a grower, and have not yet received the survey, please click on Contact Us and request a copy of the survey. Please be sure to include your e-mail address in your communication.

If you are a consumer, and hope to acquire some saskatoons of your own later this summer, please click on Calendar to find a listing, by date, of availability in your area. Please note that many of our Institute members will not post their status until about 2 weeks before their fruit is ripe, so you may need to check in every week or two until your region has ripening fruit. Ripening dates vary by geographic region, so it would be unusual to see all growers posted on the same dates. Generally fruit is available in more southern areas as soon as early July, and in more northerly climates as late as mid-August.

 

About Saskatoons (also called Juneberries or Pacific serviceberries in some locations): Saskatoons (sometimes with the addition of the word berries) are a fruit that comes from Amelanchier alnifolia plants. While some suggest that saskatoons look like blueberries, they are actually a unique fruit with a very dark purple color (high in antioxidants), more firm that many berries, with a tangier, almost nutty taste.  Saskatoons are part of the Rosaceae family. Its close relatives include many common fruits such as apples, plums, cherries, apricots and almonds. Saskatoons are great to eat fresh as well as baked. Some of the harvest is used to infuse wine and other alcoholic beverages. While hard to find in processed forms, they are also sought after in juice and powder forms. In some locations consumers buy find them frozen as well as dried.

 

About The Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America: SBINA is an educational organization, both for growers and consumers. We neither buy or sell fruit or plants. Our goal is to see greater crop availability leading to more saskatoons being enjoyed throughout North America.

Spotted Wing Drosophila Organic Managment Methods

POSTED IN For Growers, For Members ON 7/13/2018

Spotted Wing Drosophila (Male)

In this blog we have previously discussed Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), an invasive, relatively new fruit fly overspreading North America.  While there are few reported cases of SWD affecting saskatoon berries, there is broader concern for many fruits. Therefore, we are sharing this article suggesting that there is good news regarding organic management methods for SWD. Rufus Isaacs has addressed Institute members on several other pests, but none that present such a fast growing threat to fruit crops as SWD.

While most fruit flies are only interested in fruit still hanging from bushes and trees, SWD seem content to continue their lifecycle in fallen and rotting fruit as well. So while some USDA practices call for allowing fruit to drop, this fiend uses such situations to its benefit.

It is our hope that our friends across both the US and Canada can take note of these new developments, and be encouraged as they pursue some of these methods.

You can read more at: New guide to organic management of spotted wing Drosophila released

or go directly to the full report at: Management Recommendations for Spotted Wing Drosophila in Organic Berry Crops

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!

2018 Saskatoon Pesticide Recommendation and Use Restrictions for The State of Michigan

POSTED IN For Growers ON 4/13/2018

The 2018 Saskatoon Pesticide Recommendation and Use Restrictions for Michigan are now available!  Thank you Dr “Duke” Elsner of Michigan State University Extension!

Dr. Erwin “Duke” Elsner, Michigan State University Extension and Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center

To see the document click on this URL: 2018 Saskatoon Pesticide Recommendations and Use Restrictions

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

 

Michigan – the largest saskatoon producing state in the US?

POSTED IN For Growers ON 1/11/2018

While there are several commercial growers in the lower peninsula of Michigan, most saskatoons in the upper peninsula are for personal harvesting. That may be changing soon, as more information becomes available regarding the potential for saskatoons growth among Yupers.

Michigan State University has been providing essential research and services in the development of this fruit that is relatively new in Michigan as a commercial crop.

The biggest problem so far is that growers cannot grow enough to satisfy the demand. But as an industry, we are working on that. Large customers wait in the wings as we see increasing acreage being planted.

If you are a Yuper, or even if you are just interested in getting some of this yummy fruit for commercial or personal purposes, you can learn more through the following article from The Daily Mining Gazette: 

http://www.mininggazette.com/news/2018/01/up-looks-like-berry-good-ground-for-saskatoons/

 

Zach Douglas, CEO, Retires to Grow Saskatoons

POSTED IN For Growers ON 1/11/2018

Zach Douglas, CEO of MacMaster Innovation Park in Saskatchewan, retires from a career in research park development in order to start a career as a saskatoon orchardman.

Mr. Douglas noted that the research park has come to fruition.  Now he changes his focus for the future to fruit itself.

To read the article by Mark McNeil go to: https://www.thespec.com/news-story/8033224-founding-ceo-of-mac-innovation-park-retiring/

Are You Ready To Look At Growing Saskatoons Commercially?

POSTED IN For Growers ON 12/26/2017

You can learn more about growing saskatoons commercially at the 2018 Northwest Michigan Orchard and Vineyard Show in Traverse City, MI on January 16th & 17th.

Growing saskatoons can produce over 10 pounds of fruit each season

Ripening saskatoons on the bush

For more information, go to: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/events/2018_northwest_michigan_orchard_and_vineyard_show

You can also learn more on this website by going to About Saskatoons

Consumers and processors need more growers to take advantage or the developing interest in commercial quantities of saskatoons.

Saskatoons (Amelanchier alnifolia) at the Great Lakes Expo 2017

POSTED IN For Growers ON 12/1/2017


There are 3 ways to learn more about saskatoons (Amelanchier alinifolia) at the Great Lakes Expo 2017 in Grand Rapids, MI from December 4th – 7th, 2017:

  1. On Tuesday at 2:00 PM you can hear Saskatoon Berry Establishment Practices, by Robert Spencer, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry, Alberta, Canada.
  2. Blue Sky Berries will have a booth (number 1507). Blue Sky Berries is a grower and nursery as well as a U-Pick farm and processor of frozen fruit
  3. Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America officers and members will be onsite, both for the Tuesday presentation and on the Tradeshow floor.

The Expo focuses on fruit, vegetables, Farm Markets and Greenhouse Growers.

Please let us know if you want to schedule a time to talk to someone during the Expo.