Saskatoon berries are a very adaptable plant and will thrive in most soil types, and within a wide PH range. The soil should be free of perennial weeds and tilled to a depth of at least 6″. This can be achieved with the use of the herbicide Roundup.
Although fertilizer requirements vary from area to area, it is important to ensure adequate phosphorous is applied as a preplant. We recommend the formulation 11-55-0 at a rate of 125-300 lbs/acre. This can be spread on the surface and worked into the soil.
Mulches / Weed Control
Many different mulches can be used to reduce moisture loss. Polymulch, a .2mil 3ft wide black poly, is a very effective mulch when used in conjunction with drip irrigation. Other natural mulches such as straw, sawdust or wood shavings are also effective. Trifluren is registered as a preplant, and both Linuron and Casoran are registered for established plantings. READ AND FOLLOW THE LABEL PRECISELY AND CAREFULLY.
Planting is either done behind a spade or with the aid of a mechanical planter. Plants should be placed about 1 inch deeper than they were grown in the greenhouse. Seedlings should be packed firmly and irrigated immediately. Plants should be spaced 3ft apart in the row, with rows 16ft – 20ft apart. Remember, Saskatoon berry plants will grow 8 – 12ft wide. For example, an orchard 16ft x 3ft would require about 900 plants per acre, while spacing of 3ft x 20ft would need 725 plants per acre.
Saskatoon berry plants will bear fruit in the third year. We recommend you remove the blossoms and let them grow as vigorously as possible. The fourth year you can have a reasonable crop and near the seventh year you can reach full production. The fruit ripens in July depending on the year and average yields per plant range from 5lbs to 35lbs per plant. Plant density in your orchard will have an effect on the yield. “You pick” is a popular method of marketing with prices ranging around $3.00 per lb. Processing and canning opens many new markets.
Irrigation is an absolute if you are thinking of maximum yields for your berry orchard.
Types of Irrigation
Any type of irrigation will work, but realize that your need for irrigation is not only for plants survival, but to maximize yield. Drip irrigation is seen by many as the answer to irrigating orchards on the prairies, as water is often at a premium.
Drip irrigation places the water at the base of the plant. It is an efficient and very cost effective manner of irrigation, and can save up to 90% of the water used in conventional methods of irrigation.