The Northern Light Orchard haskap plants are finally approaching full bloom. It would be great to see a couple weeks of steady warm, sunny, and calm days. So far we have been delivered mostly sunshine with moderate winds but cold...
Haskap are remarkabley resilient to cold weather, but we are worried about the fruit set. It appears that there may have been enough frost a couple nights to damage some of the initial bloom but the biggest challenge is for the honeybees.
Our local apiarist has 72 colonies of bees in the orchard to help out but they don't like the cold weather and tend to not fly far until the temperature is above 10 degrees C. Lucky for them (and for us) their bee yard is nicely protected, as is the orchard, particularly now that our plants are getting quite large, so there is a microclimate surronding the bees and plants that can to be several degrees above the ambient temperatures out in the open fields.
What we have noticed in past years however, is that following cold mornings during bloom we get more fruit on the west side of the plants, wheras warm mornings during the bloom tends to generate more fruit on the east side of the plants, because the bees, all else being equal, tend to be more active early in the morning.
So for now it is a wait and hope mother nature gives us her best, as the haskap shrubs themselves are in good shape, we have done a fair bit of pruning and completed outplanting some of the new Aurora cultivar, and are preparing to embark on an organic feeding program to enhance the positive benefits of sawdust mulch in the rows with white clover between.
In the next couple weeks we expect to begin mowing the grass and clover which will occur every 2 to 3 weeks, do a walkthrough with a hoe to get stray weeds in the rows, and make some improvements on our building facilities. The orchard will keep us busy until harvest time!
All told, we're happy that everything is on track for this year's haskap harvest. We can hardly wait until we can share the very best Saskatchewan haskap berries with you!