Berry‐based “nutraceuticals” or “superfoods” have captured public attention and represent a growing market for fruit production in Montana. Moreover, local food processors have expressed a strong interest in and are currently incorporating these fruits into products such as wines, jams, syrups, and juices. For example, annual blueberry consumption in North America has increased 4-fold, from ~0.25 billion lbs. in 1995 to over 1 billion lbs. today. While blueberries are not easily grown in most parts of the state, there are other cold hardy berry choices offering similar options. These include Aronia, Haskaps, Dwarf Sour Cherries, Elderberries, Saskatoons (Serviceberries), and Currant.

Local fruit growers and processors are interested in producing these types of berries but lack the basic information concerning which types and varieties are adapted to grow in Montana. This project will test the feasibility of these new crops at multiple sites across the state. The goals of this project are to:

1) Determine which cold hardy, nutrient dense fruits are productive and profitable.

2) Educate growers and consumers on which fruits do well in the state and how to grow them.

3) Increase the supply and demand for Montana-grown fruits.

WARC is collaborating with MSU extension, MSU-Plant Sciences, and Flathead Valley Community College to evaluate the cold hardiness, flavor, and productivity of nearly 50 varieties of Haskap, Aronia, Dwarf Sour Cherries, Elderberries, Saskatoons (Serviceberries), and Currants at four sites across the state. The sites will be located at Corvallis, Kalispell, Bozeman, and two locations in Helena. The trial will measure their winter hardiness, pest susceptibility, production, and flavor. Support for this project has been provided by the MT Dept. of Ag. Specialty Crop Block Grant and USDA-NIFA-HATCH.

Cold Hardy Berry Evaluations

Haskaps Black Currant

Haskap

    Currant 

Serviceberry

Cherries

Saskatoon

      Dwarf Sour Cherries

Elderberry

aronia

Elderberry

                     Aronia

 

Additional Grower Resources

Montana State University Extention guide to pocket gopher control