Dr. Bob Bors from the U of Sask :
"In testing, Tundra’s fruits were firm enough to
withstand commercial harvesting and sorting at the
University of Saskatchewan, yet tender enough to
melt in the mouth. Firmness is a rather rare trait
especially for large fruited blue honeysuckles.
Ranking at almost the top for flavour and fruit size
the shape of its fruit was deemed acceptable for
the Japanese market. Its fruit is at least 50% larger
than blue honeysuckles currently available in Canada.
Its firmness and the fact that this variety does not
‘bleed’ from the stem end when picked could make
this variety especially suited for Individually
Quick Frozen (IQF) processing.''
"Borealis has the distinction of having the best testing and largest fruit size in our breeding program as of 2007. (However, there were many good tasting haskap varieties and it was hard to decide) Its fruits were usually twice the size of any of the 35 Russian varieties in our collection of similar age. (Most varieties of haskap/blue honeysuckles seem to have larger fruit as the bushes get older). Unfortunately, this variety does not have the firmness of ‘Tundra’ and it is not suitable for IQF. It tends to get a bit mushy when handled with equipment. It may be best for home gardeners or U-pick operations who can hand pick the delicate fruit. Or if shake harvesting the fruit, the berries will be damaged and will need to be quickly processed. Not only did the breeder and a University panel choose it as having the best flavour, but its top rating for flavour was also verified by a Japanese Company that chose it as the best tasting of 43 samples!
Indigo Gem (9-15) high yielding and has an interesting trait in that some feel that it has a slightly chewy texture when eaten fresh, possibly desirable in processing. It has a smaller berry than Tundra and is relatively firm. It has a dry picking scar but has been susceptible to powdery mildew.
The ‘Indigo Gem’ had almost twice as much fruit by weight than other cultivars. This selection also has a trait rare in Haskap; its berries are a bit chewy when eaten fresh. This characteristic may make it desirable for some processed products as chewy fruits hold their shape better when cooked.
This is an older variety that was bred in Czech Republic. It pollinates well and is also one of the fastest growing and tallest varieties, producing numerous flowers and therefore is an excellent pollinator. Smart Berry Blue’s berries are smaller than other varieties, with a tubular shape. Although, it offers a relatively high yield of berries, which are more tart than other varieties.
Indigo Treat (9-91)
Fruit have good firmness, making them a suitable processing cultivar. Berry size is 1.41 g, slightly smaller than Tundra.
The University of Saskatchewan has released
a new pollinator called Honey Bee to pollinate
Borealis, Tundra, and the Indigo haskaps.
It has several favourable traits:
It blooms at the same time as the cultivars
it’s meant to pollinate
It produces good fruit set in the producing cultivar
i.e. pollination is successful
It is productive and vigorous, starts fruiting at
an early age
Honeybee fruit is tarter than B, T, I but better tasting than most Russian pollinators
It holds onto its fruit firmly and fruit stays on the plant longer; most Russian haskaps drop their fruit when ripe but not Honey Bee
It has a high degree of powdery mildew resistance in test plots
Because if its large size (50% taller than Borealis) it can pollinate up to 8 plants
It could possibly be used as a guard row to prevent birds from feeding on the inner producing rows. Since Honey Bee fruit isn’t knocked off the plant as easily as other haskaps, perhaps it can keep birds away from the producing rows
It is not recommended for mechanical harvesting as its cylindrical shape doesn’t let it move well in equipment.
There is however another more important reason we will not carry the Honeybee: it keeps part of the stem attached. Like a little sting. Not good.
There are however newer very promising varieties.
The first one is the Aurora, a good pollinator for all the other varieties.
See further down a description of Aurora
And the newest varieties will be Boreal Blizzard (release 2016) and Boreal Beauty (release 2017)
New for 2013/14 Aurora
It looks like we may have a pollinator for our haskaps that may exceed the ones we have in quality and stature.
We have ordered the newly released Aurora for Spring 2014 delivery but since quantities are still limited we may have to wait and see when they will arrive on the farm.
For now we know that we like the taste of Borealis and Indigo Gem especially. With several people enjoying them with ice cream, yoghurt, or in the salads, it looks like we may have a winner.
We planted several 100 of Aurora last fall and again this spring another 500
Blue Honeysuckle Berries are Hottest New Superfood
Originally published January 29 2009
Wealth Opportunity: Blue Honeysuckle Berries are Hottest New Superfood
by Barbara L. Minton, citizen journalist
(NaturalNews) Blue honeysuckle is proving to be a hot item this year for nutritionists, survivalists, and potential growers. This attractive, arching bush just arrived in the northern hemisphere from Russia, and is making a grand entrance onto the scene because of its abundant production of blue honeysuckle berries, rivaling other berries in flavor and outrivaling many of them in nutrition and health benefits.
The blue honeysuckle bush, botanically known as Lonicera caerulea, is a hearty plant with all the endurance and pest resistance of other honeysuckle plants. It is easily reproduced from seed or cutting and is extremely drought tolerant. It is cold hardy to temperatures of -50 C. It grows to 4 feet tall, and little pruning is required, just cutting away overlapping or weak branches. It can be grown anywhere from zone 2 to zone 8 on the U.S. Arboretum Plant Hardiness Zone Map. It is particularly comfortable in the northern reaches and the Pacific Northwest.
These bushes are widely grown in Russia and Japan where they are prized for their fruit and for berries much larger than blueberries with a flavor described as a cross between a blueberry and a blackberry, or even a raspberry. Bushes can be placed 4 to 6 feet apart. Small, white, funnel shaped flowers appear in February or March and develop into the delicious, teardrop shaped fruit that ripens in May. This fruit contains a very high amount of vitamin C and bioactive flavonoids. Each bush produces about four to seven pounds of fruit a year. Once full grown at 5 to 6 years, the bushes can produce well in excess 10 pounds of fruit.
Research is already documenting the health benefits of blue honeysuckle
The conclusion that blue honeysuckle is a nutritional powerhouse is a given at this point. Researchers around the world are now scrambling to quantify and qualify the extent of these benefits.
Recent research reported in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, December, 2008, analyzed a phenolic fraction from the berries to determine its nutrients and micronutrients. Researchers determined the content of anthocyanins, with cyanidin-3-glucoside being the most prominent. Anthocyanins are pigments in the plant from which it gets its antioxidant, anti-platelet, and wound healing abilities. Other flavonoids found included the following:
Rutin reduces inflammation, and fights cancer, boosts the effectiveness of vitamin C, maintains blood vessels, and supports collagen so necessary for young, supple skin.
Quercetin neutralizes free radicals to prevent cellular damage, combats cancer, alleviates bruising and varicose veins, enhances cardiovascular health, prevents oxidation of cholesterol, and improves lung health and respiration.
Epicatechin is believed by many researchers to be able to prevent four of the top five killer diseases: heart failure, cancer, diabetes, and stroke. They see a shortage of this phenomenal nutrient as the cause of many diseases of modern times. Epicatechin is considered so important to the body that it is under consideration for classification as a vitamin.
Protocatechuic acid is anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-carcinogenic. It is another potent free radical fighter.
Genistic acid is also another potent free radical fighter.
Ellagitannins convert in the body into ellagic acid, one of the most powerful antioxidants known, and a powerful cancer fighter. Ellagic acid has the ability to inhibit mutations in DNA, and promote apoptosis (appropriate death) of cancer cells. It also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities.
Ferulic Acid provides rigidity to cell walls and is a protector of the nervous system. It normalizes blood pressure.
Caffeic Acid and chlorogenic acid work together to protect cerebral neurons. These acids are effective against liver toxicity, promote cell differentiation, and normalize colon function. They have been found effective in halting cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis in breast cancer cells.
In this study blue honeysuckle dried fruit was shown to reduce the ability of parasites to form and adhere. These included Candida, Staphylococcus, E. Coli, Enterococcus, and Streptococcus varieties.
The November, 2008 journal Molecules reports a study of blue honeysuckle berries to determine their ability to prevent nervous system disease. Researchers found them to be potent sources of neuron-protective antioxidants that could prevent neurodegenerative diseases.
The Archieves of Dermatology Research, June, 2008, reported a study finding that blue honeysuckle fruit suppressed UVA induced free radical production and decreased intracellular lipid peroxidation while increasing glutathione production. Glutathione is the most potent of the endogenously produced antioxidants.
A study reported in Experimental Eye Research, May, 2006, found that blue honeysuckle berry extract reduced inflammation from eye disease and produced pro-inflammatory mediators in the eye.
A study from China reported in November, 2005, found blue honeysuckle berries reduced inflammatory reaction to food induced allergies.
The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2005, reported that blue honeysuckle works as a potent anti-inflammatory by suppressing production of nitric oxide and tumor necrosis factor alpha. Nitric oxide is a producer of free radicals during inflammatory responses. [EBH: Note that this study involves Lonicera japonica or Japanese Honeysuckle not Lonicera caerulea or blue honeysuckle.]
Researchers found blue honeysuckle berries to possess the highest content of phenolic acids compared to other berries tested, in a study reported in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, March, 2005. Tested against blueberries, mulberries, juneberries, black currants, and blackberries, the berries from the blue honeysuckle consistently produced the highest level of antioxidants.
What blue honeysuckle may mean for you
Blue honeysuckle appears to be the berry of the future. It is easy to grow in areas not traditionally well suited for agriculture, and has minimal requirements. It produces berries that ripen ahead of other berry varieties, assuring a ready market of customers who want raw berries in early spring. It produces an excellent tasting berry for jelly, jam, juice, freezing, adding to ice cream or yogurt, drying, or eating fresh. For gardeners desiring an organically grown orchard, or for growers looking for a new, popular and easy crop to produce, that future is now.
For those fearing the heavy hand of government intervention, blue honeysuckle bushes on your land will be able to provide a food containing many of the needed nutrients to maintain health. They would also make a great, low maintenance addition to a victory garden or any backyard.
Expect blue honeysuckle berries and berry products to go the way of goji berries and acai. Blue honeysuckle has all the characteristics of another fad in health food. And as more people make the decision to incorporate health promoting berries into their diets, prices for berries will continue to escalate.
Dr. Bob Bors, professor at University of Saskatchewan, an advocate for blue honeysuckle, says it will not be long before significant economic activity is being generated by blue honeysuckle. He is especially keen on growing the plants because they are harvested two weeks before strawberries are ready, and the flowers can take temperatures of -7C without damage. Seeds are similar to kiwi fruit seeds. They do not have to be removed and they really are not even noticeable. Blue honeysuckle berries are easily detached and can be mechanically harvested. Bors calls them the easiest to harvest fruit he has ever encountered. He describes the flavor as sweet/sour with a hint of black current. Although most people say they taste like blueberries, Bors does not think so.
In 1997, Bors planted four varieties of blue honeysuckle: Blue Belle, Blue Bird, Blue Velvet, and Berry Blue. He says Blue Belle was the best tasting and most productive with Berry Blue having the best tree shape. Two different varieties are necessary for cross pollination, and he recommends Blue Belle and Berry Blue.
This all eventually developed into the so-called row 9 varieties with several having superior qualities. So much so that Japanese specialists have already determined that they prefer the some of these over the home grown ones.
These are the above mentioned ones : Borealis, Tundra, Indigo Gem and Indigo Treat.
These four varieties are now being grown on our property in Foxboro, with one acre started in 2011
In 2012 we planted 2 more acres, and we hope to have a total of 6 acres planted by 2014
Based on U of S royalties, it is estimated that there were about 160,000 haskaps planted in Canada in 2009, with a further 200,000 plants expected to be planted in 2010. HCA president Paul Mitchell, estimates there will be about 300 to 400 acres of commercial haskaps in Canada by the end of the 2010 growing season – about 60 per cent in Saskatchewan.
And grower interest isn’t about to ebb any time soon. For example, the U of S’s only licensed propagator in Alberta, PrairieTech Propagation in Bonnyville, expects to sell about 50,000 plants again this year to growers across Canada and the United States for $4 to $10 a plant. Dan McCurdy, PrairieTech’s manager, says his company is now selling far more haskaps than saskatoons.
Mitchell estimates this year’s Western Canadian haskap crop, the first real harvest of any significance, will be about 113,000 kilograms, doubling in volume by 2012. Near-term harvests won’t satiate current demand as HCA knows of at least one Canadian company that wants 270,000 kilograms a year. “It’s sort of a delicate balance to get the public awareness out there in line with the production,” says Mitchell.
But lack of product hasn’t dampened interest from prospective buyers, including four American processors and various ice cream makers. “This week alone I’ve had two phone calls from different restaurants in Alberta wanting berries,” says Mitchell.