Ripening: Haskaps have been ripening in southern Ontario over the last two weeks. Although much of the fruit has turned colour within the last 7 days (since June 2), be aware that berries are most likely not ready for harvest. It can be difficult to determine when haskap fruit is ready for harvest. Skin colour should exhibit a deep purple colour, however if green tissue is still visible when fruit are cut open, wait an additional 5-7 days and sample before attempting a harvest. Ripe fruit can remain on the plant for long periods of time without showing signs of degradation if adequate moisture is available.
In previous years it has been noted that growers should wait as long as possible after 100% change in berry colour before initiating the first harvest. Since 2011, initial harvest dates for haskap in southern Ontario have ranged from May 29 to June 25th with variable results in flavour. The best flavour results were obtained in 2013 with fruit harvested on July 9th (small plot samples from the Simcoe Research Station). So what’s the take home message? Growers should continually monitor and test their haskaps for flavour (even when the berries appear ripe) before sending to market to ensure favourable consumer reaction to these new berries.
Bird Netting: If your haskap field is located close to an orchard, bush, or other location with a resident bird population, it is a good idea to consider covering the haskap planting with bird netting. For more information, please refer to this previous posting from June 4, 2013 about bird netting and other deterrents: https://onspecialtycrops.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/haskap-update-june-4-2013/