Honeyberry Orchard Establishment

Careful advance Honeyberry orchard establishment planning is vital in creating a successful Honeyberry orchard for profitability and long-term success. We recommend you start with our Honeyberry or perhaps Haskap guide- ‘Your Essential Honeyberry Guide’ – to give simple answers to an unique berry? This in-depth guidebook is written by ourselves and published by AgriForest Bio-technologies.

Would you like to take a peek inside? We thought so. Please click the picture below to view an opening sample of this essential Honeyberry and Haskap guide.

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We are here to help you plan

Benjamin Franklin reminded us many, many years ago that – if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. So is it with an Honeyberry orchard. Your future success starts with good pre-establishment preparation. So please contact us early on in your planning process.

Honeyberry establishment examples

Four easy steps to ‘Honeyberry Heaven.’

  • Define your targets for creating a successful Honeyberry business. We have many clients with many different ambitions. However, the major thread that ties them all together is creating a natural orchard upon which they can build a highly profitable brand. We can help you define and rank these targets. Then set up a management plan, to establish achievable mileposts to ensure your success. Then give you the tools and techniques to allow you to reach your goals as cost-effectively as possible.
  • Test your Orchard’s or proposed site’s soil. Basic soil mineral and biology results can reveal your soil’s limiting factors or significant areas of weakness that need addressing. It is important to look to build these areas up over several seasons, starting with different cover crops in the first season. Our aim is not to begin by applying valuable minerals or amendments to your soil, as these may be quickly leached out in their first season of application. Rather improve your soil’s biology to release the minerals tied up or locked up in the soil and otherwise unavailable to your plants.
  • Develop a plan to reach your businesses goals. We are here to help and work together to develop a fertility management program, custom built to your orchard and local terroir. We suggest correcting the soil’s limiting factors with biostimulants, soil amendments, and nutrients that will give you the best return on your investment. Deciding to work with consultant or agronomist may seem unappetizing, with the question of the cost being utmost in most prospective grower’s minds. However to avoid the potentially disastrous consequence of ‘finding out too late’. We firmly believe it makes sense to consider the costs of NOT having expert advice.
  • Monitor and make adjustments as necessary through the season. The two simplest tools of seeing if your fertility management program is on track or need a mid-season adjustment are through the use of Brix measurement and leaf tissue analysis. The latter allows you to avoid any additional nutrient deficiency that could cause plant stress, and open the doors to disease, and insect attack, all of which will reduce your yield potential. Brix has a direct effect on the quality and flavor of the fruit and provides an indication of the crop’s natural immunity level to resist disease and pest pressure.

These appropriate four achievable steps allow you build a story of healthy terroir, with a proven nutrient system. The aim is to reduce costs, reduce chemical reliance, regenerate the soil, boost plant vitality and enhance the orchards profitable and flavorsome yields.

honeyberry orchard establishment

Honeyberry basic business considerations

Developing any fruit or berry orchard and bringing it to full production requires a substantial investment of capital, time, and labor. Estimates vary widely and depend on circumstances particular to the site and if it is organic or non-organic. However, necessary development costs can be from $15,000 to more than $20,000 per acre, not including land costs.

Significant negative cash flow may occur for at least the first three years until the plants have matured to produce a marketable crop. Therefore, careful consideration should be taken of the financial and labor requirements before proceeding with plans for a honeyberry orchard.

Our simple goal is to enable you to establish a productive natural Honeyberry orchard quickly by eliminating many of the high start-up and ongoing errors associated with a new fruit such as Honeyberry.

honeyberry orchard establishment

Honeyberry orchard establishment basics

Premier orchards result only where exacting standards are met and maintained. By having a thorough understanding of the Honeyberry basics, the grower can avoid making many of the fundamental mistakes during establishment.

Ideal Orchard Establishment Timeline

  • Fall before next year’s planting (this step is not required if site is orchard ready):
    • Deep-chisel, the soil, then plow and disc
    • Conduct first soil test
    • Plant fall mixed cover crop and applied Fall soil nutrients
    • Order needed plant material (1,000 plants of four to six varieties per acre)
  • Spring before planting:
    • Plant Spring cover crop and use soil amendments
    • Conduct second soil test
    • Create outside or polytunnel plant nursery
  • Fall of planting:
    • Till and prepare orchard rows
    • Apply Fall soil amendments
  • Fall of planting:
    • Plant potted plants or young plants in blue vine tubes
    • Plant fall cover crop if needed between orchard rows

Importance of cocktail cover crops

Planting a cocktail of cover crops (five families – legumes, grasses, brassicas, cereals, and chenopods) in the best and most cost-effective way to improve your soil before you plant and after you plant. It’s a critical orchard tool and like everything in life the variety of the cocktail is the key. This cocktail approach is the best, most cost-effective way and most efficient way to build humus, stimulate biology (including the very expensive mycorrhiza), unlock minerals in soils and keep weeds at bay. A friendly hard working and available workforce, similar to bees. One of the important decisions to grow on your young plants in 2 or 4-gallon pots is that they will be big enough to plant directly into this living mulch in the Fall.

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One of the greatest misunderstandings about cover crops is that they will rob precious reserve moisture from the orchard crop. It can not be further from the truth. When these cover crops die back into the soil, they increase organic matter (or humus), which holds its weight in water. More importantly, these crops feed and stimulate bacterial populations, and these organisms regularly release a sticky substance that works just like water crystals in your soil. You have very often improved moisture management with a cover crop instead of stealing from the coming harvest.

The advantages of this cost effective strategy (approx. $80 an acre) are to awaken the soil’s biology, increase the organic matter and make the minerals more available to the plants. So the soil is in better shape to hold on to any needed soil amendments post the establishment annual cocktail cover crop. 

Please read Graeme Sait’s excellent two-part Blog on this subject – Part One and Part Two

cover crops

How many Honeyberry plants per acre?

  • 1,000. Plant in well prepared tilled and weed-free rows 4 to 5 feet apart. These orchard rows are usually on 10 to 11-foot centers. Yields of eight to twelve pounds per plant are obtained from mature and healthy plants, depending on its variety.
  • Many growers plant 2,000 plants an acre or on row centers of two or three feet. We believe this strategy is unwise as it cuts down the ‘mass of the bush’ and therefore, reduce’s the plant’s yield of 50% or more. Planting on too close centers impacts on its root growth and can negatively impact on the plants health and fruit quality.

honeyberry orchard establishment

What size to plant?

  • We advise growing the young Honeyberry in 2 or 4-gallon pots in the Spring for 12  months in an outside nursery area or open poly tunnels near to the orchard and then plant out in the Fall. Younger plants can be planted directly in the orchard, in blue vine tubes, to help with weed and rabbit control. However will need a well planned weeding management plan for the following year. Planting in the Spring is not advised, as plants start growing at a Spring air temperature of around 0 to 2c when the orchard soil is not typically ready for field work.
  • Potting up the young plants, allows you to prepare the orchard’s soil to meet its needs – its structure, organic content, minerals and biological makeup. A further advantage is to of making it less suitable for weeds. The aim is for the plants to have a higher Brix than the weeds.
  • Planting a larger rootball in the Fall takes more time, but allows the plant to become well established when Spring growth arrives. It also removes the need for immediate weeding and any future weeds are less likely to dominate a larger root mass.

Ongoing orchard management practices

Once the Honeyberry orchard establishment stage is complete, attention should turn to the needed tasks of orchard’s management. By having a thorough understanding and solution for these, the grower can ensure his goals can be met.

  • Importance of having a management plan
  • Organic or non-organic practices
  • Annual and perennial cocktail cover crops
  • Needed orchard machinery
  • Essential plant and soil health monitoring tools
  • Soil and foliar sprays and compost tea practices
  • Pollination and Bee practices
  • Weed and pest control program
  • Pruning practices

Example of weed control – Weedbager at work

Now you see them or the winter cover crop of oats and now you don’t. The Weedbadger has done its magic. Next stage the new summer cover crop and foliar sprays.

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Honeyberry weeding

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Honeyberry orchard planing

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