Honeyberry (Haskap) - 'Aurora' Honeyberry
Honeyberries (Haskaps) are a lesser known berry that produce small, elongated blue fruit resembling blueberries. 'Aurora' is considered by many to be one of the best cultivars available. Native to Eastern Russia, this fruit ripens in early summer, but may not be ready to pick for 2-3 weeks after turning blue while the flavor becomes established. Honeyberries are tart when picked too early, but develop more sweetness as they ripen over time, although they still retain tart undertones even when completely ripe. They can have a fairly complex flavor consisting of tones reminiscent of other berries – such as strawberry, blueberry, or raspberry – that complement their own unique flavor. Uses include pastries, jam, juice, wine, ice cream, cake, and yogurt.
Easily grown in zones 1-8. Pointed, somewhat pear shaped fruit is easily seen on bushes when it is formed and ripening in late June through early August. Some varieties will turn dark purple inside when they are fully ripe, while others will remain green. Mature berries can hang on the bush for 1 to 2 months in cool summer climates before they become overripe. Smaller berries may dehydrate before then. Honeyberries require minimal effort to manage with very few pests and problems. They are mostly disease resistant, extraordinarily cold hardy (down to -53°F), and full of nutritional benefits including Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, C, and E. They also contains fiber, protein, potassium, calcium, sodium, zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and iron. It is claimed that they even have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, are good for vision, prevent colon cancer, and improve cardiovascular health. Honeyberries ripen around the same time as strawberries and their hardy blooms withstand some of the most unstable climates. Plants within the genus Lonicera are referred to as honeysuckle, where the name 'honeyberry' is derived. Bush height is around 5-6 feet tall and width tends to stay around five feet. High mildew resistance. Space no less than 5 feet apart unless you are creating a hedge in which you should plant them only 3 feet apart. To prevent sunburn, allow for full sun of at least 6 hours in the morning, but protect from strong afternoon/evening sun or provide shade cloth. Honeyberries prefer well-drained soils with high organic matter content and tolerate a pH range of 5-7 (preferred), 4.5-8 (acceptable), up to 8.5 (tolerable). Water well for the first 3 years, always water before you see signs of wilting. Continue to water as needed through the summer, but discontinue in the fall to promote occurrence of dormancy. Fertilize if necessary and control weeds, insects, diseases and birds. Prune late winter to early spring and thin out bushes when they become too dense. Protect plants from the impacts of direct winds with windbreaks. Pests may include leafrollers (Omnivorous Leafroller) and the main disease to watch for would be powdery mildew
Start fruiting one year after planting but start producing kilos per bush after 4 years. Berries can be shaken off at harvest time. Potential yield is 3 to 7 kilos (6.6 - 15.4 lb.) per bush after 5 years. Berries can store for a couple of weeks. Requires cross-pollination with another variety of Honeyberry that have the same bloom period. Cross 'Aurora' with 'Borealis' and 'Beauty' with 'Beast'.