From Jennifer Cole, a specialty crop summer student working with the OMAFRA Simcoe Specialty Crop Team and the University of Guelph:
Many health promoting berries, often considered “nutraceuticals”, can be grown in Ontario including goji, seabuckthorn, aronia (chokeberries), haskaps and elderberries. These berries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and/or other nutritional components. Although they are not considered herbs, they have similar niche markets in the health industry.
Many production issues arise with these specialty berries as with any other specialty crop. These include limited availability of registered pest control products and importantly, minimal production knowledge. It is always a good idea to experiment with new crops before growing them on a larger acreage. This will allow for time to establish markets and to identify potential production challenges. Pests are always an issue with new crops, especially after acreage begins to expand. Major pest problems that have occurred in the OMAFRA Herb Demonstration Garden include the defoliation of aronia plants by Japanese beetles and the nearly complete removal of haskap berries by robins.
For more information on health promoting berries please resister for the Herbs for Ontario Workshop to be held August 24 from 10am – 3pm at the Simcoe Research Station. RSVP by August 12 to Leslie Parks at 519-426-7123.