Aronia Planting Guide Part VI – Pruning, Pest, Landscaping, Harvesting, and Yields

Aronia Planting Guide Part VI – Pruning, Pest, Landscaping, Harvesting, and Yields

Pruning

After establishment, the oldest stems should be pruned to ground in late dormant season. Restrict bush height & increase bushiness by cutting back upright stems.

After berries have dropped or been harvested prune to shape the plant. Pruning the Aronia plants while the plants are young will also encourage branching. The best time to prune is in the late winter or spring before growth starts. By pruning in the early spring just before growth starts. This means there is only a short time before new growth begins and for the wound sealing process to take place. It does not seriously harm plants in the long run to cut plants back so that they may produce a dense growth of new shoots This is called “pollarding”. As the plants grow larger prune to thin the plant so all parts of the plant receive sunlight.

Pest

Japanese beetles and other insect pests generally will leave the aronia plants alone. Blueberry Croft farm and nursery has not had problems with Japanese beetles.

For long-term pest management, a good defense against Japanese beetle involves improving the soil in your property so that the beneficial micro organisms that live there are active and numerous. The micro organisms eat Japanese beetle eggs under the grass in around plant roots. Mulching and using aerated compost tea made using worm casting is a good approach to improving your soil and the number of beneficial micro organisms in the soil.

Aronia berries are more resistant to microbial invasion than other fruits.

Aronia berries will provide food for deer; rabbits and songbirds in the fall after the berries are fully ripe if left unpicked. Before they are fully ripe they are so bitter that songbirds will avoid them.

In summary the major pest are as follows

  • Deer
  • Rabbits
  • Songbirds (in the fall after fruit is ripe)
  • Japanese beetles (usually not a problem)
  • A few maggots from Spotted Wing Drosphila have found in a few berries in some sites. A possible solution is to try putting some traps with molasses, brewer’s yeast, etc to try to lower populations around Aronia and other berry plants.

Landscaping

The practice of growing aronia as a landscape plant is increasing. One of the reasons is because it can handle both wet and dry soil in addition to being a very ornamental plant. It is attractive in each season and not effected by most diseases and pests. These are outstanding landscape plants. They have attractive white flowers in the spring and beautiful glossy green leaves all summer long. The dark berries in the fall at the end of the year and are a plus by providing healthy fruit.

Their ability to withstand wet situations makes aronia plants appropriate for growing along the edges of ponds, streams or other similar conditions. Aronia works well as a riverbank stabilizer, or in fields in the path of water runs to control erosion or in any large-scale planting in which a growing mass is needed. Aronia plants are especially useful in roadside ditches or a moist low tract of land that is a natural landscape feature or a human-created one. Consider using the cultivar Nero if you enjoy seeing heavy production of larger and longer lasting black fruits on a more compact plant 3 to 4 feet tall. If youare planning to have a productive plantation with high-quality fruit Nero or the taller growing Viking plants are good choices.

Harvesting

For more than 1/2 to 1 acre mechanical harvesting is more efficient, faster and less costly than hand harvesting.

Aronia fruit stay good for a relative long period of time and can be stored unharmed in the containers even for a few days. “This means they can also be shipped to customers’ right after picking without refrigeration. This is a significant opportunity and benefit because it also makes it possible to deliver the fruit harvested from a large area to the processing facility all at the same time.

The processing of fresh aronia is not hard to accomplish. Although the fruit is soft their shock-resistance allows them to be stored for a longer time than other more fragile berries.

Fruit Yields

The second year after planting 2-year-old nursery aronia plants in the field they usually are reported to produce about 2 pound of fruit per plant. The third year after planting in the field they are reported to produce about 10 pounds of fruit per plant. The four to fifth year after planting they are reported to yields about 20 pounds of fruit per plant. Fruit production is reported to be as high as 35 pounds per mature plant. In terms of the growth of aronia plants the saying is “First they sleep, then they creep and then they leap”.

At 20 pounds per plant, 1000 plants per acre would be expected to produce 20,000 pounds of berries.



Source by Harold Stewart

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