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SASKATOON BERRIES

  How To Grow Saskatoon Berries


PLANT TYPE: Perennial
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Amelanchier alnifolia
ZONE / HARDINESS: Hardy to zone 2
MATURE PLANT SIZE: 8 to 12 feet high x 4 to 8 feet wide - subject to pruning method
LIGHT: Full sun to partial shade
SOIL TYPE: Sandy well-drained loam
pH RANGE: 6.0 to 7.0
KNOWN PESTS: Birds & Deer, Budmoth, cherry shoot borer, apple curculio, and saskatoon sawfly
KNOWN DISEASES: Saskatoon-juniper rust, leaf and berry spots, dieback and cankers, blackleaf and witches broom, brown rot, and fireblight.




OVERVIEW:

Saskatoon is an excellent ornamental shrub for the garden. It is hardy and it can withstand cold winters and drought, and is easily propagated, with fragrant, showy flowers, edible fruit and attractive fall foliage. If you would like to plant saskatoon in your yard, saskatoon plants are available from many plant nurseries, in several different sizes and varieties.

Saskatoons can be started in several different ways including from seeds, suckers, root cuttings, softwood cuttings, hardwood cuttings, cuttings from shoots, and crown division. Saskatoon twigs can also be grafted onto other trees like apples and pears. When seeds are used, some of the plants grown from those seeds will be different from the parent stock.

Saskatoons are very hardy, but sites with late spring frosts should be avoided. They do not have high nutrition requirements, although compost worked into the soil prior to planting will help maintain soil moisture while the plant establishes. A well drained soil and a pH of above 6.0 is preferred. The roots should be well covered and the soil firmed around the plant. Plants should be spaced 3-6 feet apart in rows, where they will grow to form a solid hedge. During the establishmnet year it is impoirtant to control weeds around the young plants.


PROPAGATION / SOWING:

Saskatoons can be propagated from seed, divisions, root cuttings, softwood cuttings, and cuttings from etiolated shoots. However, rooting and post-rooting dormancy remains a problem for some cultivars. Growing saskatoons from seed is relatively simple, but plants grown from seed differ from parent in size and fruit characteristics.


CARE & GROWING:

A slight slope to provide for both air and water drainage is also important. This is in agreement with the natural habitat of the saskatoon which is often found in sandy and other well drained locales.

Irrigation is essential for plant establishment, and to maximize growth and fruit yield. Both trickle and overhead irrigation is fine. While trickle irrigation is generally more economical and efficient, particularly with wide row spacing, overhead irrigation can provide frost protection and crop cooling.

Row cultivation with good spacing can give relatively easy weed control if long rows are used at a spacing which enables use of various size cultivators as the plant grows. Keep plants weed free.


PRUNING:

Saskatoon plants begin to bear fruit when they are 2 to 4 years old. The fruit is produced on the previous years growth and on older wood. Usually young, vigorous branches yield the highest quality fruit. Pruning should be done in early spring after the danger of severe cold weather is past and before the plants start to grow. Removal of all weak, diseased, damaged and low branches as well as thinning of the center growth to keep it open is recommended. Generally, major pruning is not required until the plants are 6 to 8 years old.


HARVESTING:

Saskatoon fruit grows in clusters. The fruit ripens almost evenly and the whole crop can usually be picked at one time. The fruit can be picked by hand, fruit should not be overripe or crushed, torn, or bruised.


USAGE:

The saskatoon was an important food source for both indigenous peoples and the early pioneers. The saskatoon is also an important food source for wildlife during the winter season. The saskatoon was also used as a source wood and as a medicinal plant. Today saskatoons are used in a wide variety of ways from pies, jams, jellies, syrups ice cream toppings, wine, liqueurs and flavour concentrates to components of baked goods. They may be used fresh or frozen and can be dried to yield raisins or fruit leathers.












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Saskatoon berry plants begin to bear fruit when they are 2 to 4 years old. Young, vigorous branches yield the highest quality fruit.





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