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Chokecherries helped settle the west

Growing Chokecherries

Growing Chokecherries

Chokecherries have tremendous processing potential. A unique, strong flavor makes them great for processing.  We are quite excited about these chokecherries and hope we stir some serious discussion about an industry wide name change. Did you know that the kiwi was originally a Chinese gooseberry, dolphin fish is now Maui Maui, dogfish has become a rock salmon, spider crabs are now snow crabs and canola used to be called Rape seed? There is a lot in a name!

Cultural Information Prunus virginiana

Wild Black Cherry (Chokecherry) is a wild cherry found most commonly at the edges of aspen bluffs and in open woods. They prefer rich moist soil but will also be found at poorer, drier sites. They do not like shady spots.

Small amounts of fruit appear in the third year with serious production in the fifth year. Row spacing must fit cultivation equipment and will vary from 15 feet and greater. Recommended spacing between plants is 3 - 5 feet.  800 plants per acre is a good rule of thumb and works out to roughly 20 foot wide rows by 3 feet in the row. Cross pollination increases fruit set and is desirable. We recommend planting more than one variety.  Due to the exquisite Wild Black Cherry flavor, uniquely "Canadian prairie" products are developing.

We are planting Garrington Chokecherry on black poly and are finding little suckering.

Heads Up!
Orchards established from Wild Black Cherry seed are much too variable. Plant only high quality clonal plants. Uniformity is critical when trying to harvest or process.

Chokecherry Highlights

  • In 1994, Wild Black Cherry was sited as the #1 specialty berry crop with the greatest, short-term potential. (Results from an $80,000.00 market assessment study spear headed by Al Scholz (Trimension Group)
  • PFRA, (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Association) in concert with Prairie Fruit Ventures successfully organized a Wild Black Cherry harvest of 250,000 pounds in 1994, for an over-seas market.
  • 230 people attended a Wild Black Cherry workshop in Indian Head, Saskatchewan, in March of 1996.
    Research Scientists are eager and on track Now!
  • Richard St. Pierre, from the Native Fruit Development Program at the University of Saskatchewan has results already from a study on the pollination of Wild Black Cherry. He is active in WBC cultivar evaluation and development.
  • Bruce Neil of PFRA is researching and in contact with US plant pathologists concerning WBC diseases.
  • Bill Shroeder, of PFRA is actively involved in WBC plant selection and development.
  • WBC varietal trials have been established in all 3 prairie provinces by provincial agriculture agencies.
  • Food scientists such as Dr. Janet Panford has provided a lot of WBC processing information such as nutrient composition.

As you can see, there is a lot of work that has already been done and a lot of excitement being generated.

 

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