We often get inquiries from the growers on which is the best time of the year to plant haskap in the field. There are two preferred options: actively growing plants in spring (early May to end of June), and dormant plants in fall (early September until six weeks before the first hard frost). Having two planting times during the year is a great benefit, as it gives growers the flexibility to choose when it is most convenient for them. However, there are some pros and cons to consider for each planting time as well.
Photo courtesy: Darren Shankel, Chetwynd, BC
When you plant an actively growing haskap in the mid Spring, they must acclimatize to their new environment and are expected to begin growing immediately. They must continue to grow shoots and establish new roots simultaneously before the arrival of the summer heat. At this point they may go through a dormancy period, halting shoot growth while building up their root mass. Weeds proliferate in spring and summer, using the nutrients and water intended for the haskap. Managing them can be achieved by adding covers or mulches around the plants such as landscape fabric, black plastic, saw dust, or wood chips. Mulching not only helps in keeping the weeds down but it also aids in retaining moisture.
Overhead irrigation through sprinklers is not the recommended method of irrigation due to higher evaporation losses. Drip irrigation is a more localized and efficient way of watering plants in their root zones. Growers can manage the plants during the entire growing season (spring to fall) by providing nutrition using a general 20:20:20 NPK fertilizer through drip irrigation, or the application of organic products like manures.
Planting semi- to fully dormant haskap in the early fall takes advantage of the remainder of the season to establish solely roots. This added root mass will enable the plants to get an earlier start on their spring growth, sooner than a grower is able to do a spring planting. Less watering is required due to the increase in rainfall and cooler temperatures, and less weed management is needed since their growth and spread has started to decline with the coming of fall. You may wish to give the plants a few doses of water-soluble 10:52:10 NPK fertilizer through drip irrigation or some other type of high-phosphorus fertilizer to promote root growth.
Active plant for spring planting Fully dormant plant for fall planting
Fall planting can be very flexible, as the plants can spend a longer period of time in their pots without any negative impacts. If the fields aren't ready yet, then growers can have some peace of mind that the plants will be fine remaining in their pots with very little management until planting time. They can even wait until being planted in spring should circumstances require. The semi- to fully dormant haskap have very strong stems and leaves, which are unlikely to break or be damaged when transported and handled. They are preferred over tender, active plants when shipping longer distances. At FloraMaxx, we can provide both semi- to fully dormant plants for fall, or active plants for spring.
To summarize, spring planting (early May to end of June) is preferred if growers are prepared to start the season early. Fields should be ready and enough man-power available to handle the planting and crop management. Fall planting (from early September until six weeks before the first hard frost) is better if the grower wants more flexibility in planting, if shipping longer distances is necessary, and the grower wants to produce the most plant growth from the following season.
We at FloraMaxx are happy to share our knowledge to assist growers in choosing the best option for their haskap orchard. Please feel free to contact us; we speak Plant!