Haskap is an exciting new crop for North America. The good varieties taste something like blueberries & raspberries. The bad ones taste like tonic water! The early varieties are the first fruit crops to ripen, even before strawberries, late ones are ripe 3 weeks later.
Since receiving funding from Saskatchewan Agriculture in 2006, we have made controlled crosses resulting in thousands of seedlings. Already we see impressive results in faster growing plants and larger berries. Perhaps more exciting for us are the wonderful flavours that occur in different plants in the breeding program. Often its hard to decide which is best.
Our goal is to combine the best traits from Haskap from different regions to adapt this crop for mechanical harvesting. But we also want to have early mid and late season varieties that taste great.
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 forthe Japanese market. Its fruit is at least 50% larger than bluehoneysuckles 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!
‘Aurora’ is a new haskap variety released to propagators in 2012. Likely it will be available to fruit growers and gardeners in 2013 or 2014. ‘Aurora’ was selected to be a companion variety for ‘Borealis’ but will also pollinize ‘Tundra’, and ‘Indigo’ series Haskap. ‘Aurora’ gave excellent set when hand crossed to all those varieties and was observed to bloom in sync with them. What are companion varieties? It’s when the varieties are desirable and will pollinize each other for good fruit set.
‘Honey Bee’ was selected to be a pollinator for ‘Borealis’, ‘Tundra’ and the ‘Indigo’ series. It blooms at the same time and has given good fruit set when used in controlled crosses with them. It is very fast growing, productive and starts fruiting at an early age.
The Indigo series varieties were initially released for testing alongside 'Borealis' and 'Tundra', but were not made part of the intial Haskap release. However, having already been propagated and grown across Canada, some people wanted them named so they would be easier remembered and identified.
Indigo Gem (9-15)
Indigo Treat (9-91)
- 'Aurora' 'Borealis'
- Haskap Introduction Slideshow
Some slides from Bob Bors' Introduction to Haskap lecture.
- Mildew and Sunburn in Haskap (Honeyberry) by Bob Bors
- 'Honey Bee' a new pollinator variety by Bob Bors
- Indigo Haskap by Bob Bors
- Dried Haskap by Bob Bors
- Haskap Wines at the U of S Fruit Program
- Haskap: the Shape of things to come in 2010 by Bob Bors
- Mechanical Harvesting trials of 2009 by Bob Bors
- Haskap Pollinator Research in 2009 by Bob Bors
- Wild Honeysuckle Pictures (Lonicera Villosa)
- Edible Blue Honeysuckle: A Fruit for Cold Climates by Clayton Wiebe (Jan. 2010)
- Sabbatical Report by Bob Bors (Sept. 09)
- A Visitor from Russia by Bob Bors (Sept. 09)
- Haskap Sister Crops by Bob Bors (Sept. 09)
- Haskap Breeding at the University of Saskatchewan by Bob Bors
- Growing Haskap in Canada by Bob Bors
- A Pollination Strategy by Bob Bors
- New Haskap Varieties from the University of Saskatchewan by Bob Bors
- Observation of Japanese Haskap in Oregon by Bob Bors
- Haskap Research & Opportunities by Bob Bors
- Haskap & Japan by Bob Bors
- Shocking News about Haskap for Growers by Bob Bors
- Haskap Growers Unite by Bob Bors
- Blue Honeysuckle by Bob Bors
- Blue Honeysuckle Update 2004 by Bob Bors