Saskatoon

Bumper crop for Saskatoon berries, cherries, says plant breeder

A dry spring and the recent wet weather has been great for saskatoons and haskaps in the province, says plant breeder and University of Saskatchewan assistant professor Bob Bors.

Bob Bors shares tips whether you’re harvesting saskatoons, haskaps or cherries

Some saskatoons and haskaps may be ready to pick now but Bors warns that blue and purple berries tend to look ripe about a week before they're ready. (@BrendaThomsenED/Twitter)

A dry spring and recent rainfall has been a boon for saskatoons and haskaps in the province, according to a plant breeder and University of Saskatchewan assistant professor Bob Bors.

It's probably going to be a bumper crop for saskatoons this year, Bors figures.

"It was dry earlier much of the year, so the diseases didn't get spread around," Bors told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "So on a drought year, saskatoons really flourish as long as they don't get crispy."

The rain that has fallen in recent days will be especially good for the berries and take them through the rest of the season, Bors said.

Some saskatoons and haskaps may be ready to pick now but Bors warns that blue and purple berries tend to look ripe about a week before they're ready. He said the best way to test ripeness is to take a bite.

Haskaps that aren't quite ripe will be green inside and have a bit of a grassy flavour.

"Saskatoons are similar. If they just started to turn purple, they're probably better next week."

Saskatoons are native to Saskatchewan and can be gathered in most parts of the province. Haskaps are native but they're very small in the wild — about the size of a lentil, Bors said. You can find native haskaps about half an hour north of Prince Albert

"They're not worth gathering," Bors said of finding haskaps. 

Cherries, strawberries and raspberries

Cherries aren't native to the province but many people grow them here. Bors expects cherries will see a bumper crop, too.

Last year's weather conditions were poor for cherries — Bors said it was too rainy and windy during their pollination time — so this year, they're overproducing.

He said the best time to pick cherries in the beginning of August.

"They're starting to get bigger now and a lot of them are bright red but they need to get dark red or more almost black."

Strawberries are starting to ripen and raspberries are still green but he thinks those crops should be good this year too. They'll be ready to eat by early August as well.

Keeping birds away

People aren't the only one animals that like fresh-picked berries.

Bors said the best way to keep birds from getting them before you have time to pick your fill is to get netting.

"I mean, you can't you can't put a sign up and tell them not to come in," he joked.

He prefers a half-inch mesh because anything larger and the bird might get stuck in it. Birds may still be able to get to the berries if the net is laid on top of the bush, so it should be positioned above the plants.

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern is a web writer and reporter with CBC Saskatoon, CBC Saskatchewan, and CBC North; and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca

With files from Saskatoon Morning

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