Saskatoon vs Blueberry?

milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)January 19, 2009

Last year I bought 6 blueberry plants after gorging myself at a PYO in the Great Northwest. Well, after reading numerous posts on keeping soil acid enough, etc., I've decided I may be happier with a couple of Saskatoon instead. How do they compare to Blueberries in taste, ease of growing, etc. I've never checked the soil here but I know I would have to go the route of collecting rain water and checking the soil often. I have better things to do!

Saint Lawrence Nurseries has two varieties of Saskatoon I was thinking of trying instead: Regent and Smokey.

Any opinions?

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Saskatoon (or Juneberry) are much easier to grow, low care berry trees, but do not taste as good as blueberries (they do taste good, and surely are full of antioxidants), and you need a ladder to pick a mature plant, though you might get varieties that have more of a shrub, multicane habit.

I am too from the Minimum Work school of thought, so Juneberries are my pick. Also, I value early fruits and vegetables a lot, and juneberries, name says it all, they are the first fruit of the season, same time as mulberries and strawberries.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 11:25AM
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Easier. A little mealy/seedy. I think cutting your blueberries with saskatoons would work out in your favour.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 1:17PM
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I'd plant both. For blueberries, unless you've got really basic soil, just mix half peat with half of your native soil, then mulch very heavily with pine needles, pine bark, 1+ yr old pine sawdust, or some other acidic mulch. To put the amount of care required in perspective, assuming normal soil pH, six blueberries require a lot less work than one apple tree.

Juneberries taste pretty good and are really low care (my only problems are japanese beetles and rust), but blueberries taste much better (more acid to balance the sweetness, more complexity, better texture, etc).

Regent (4-6') and Smokey (6-8') are both fairly compact. Based on what I've read, Smokey is supposed to taste better than Regent.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 2:02PM
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chills71(Zone 6b Mi)

I've got both and find that Saskatoons are easier. Good saskatoons are just as tasty as home-grown blueberries and way better than store-bought blues.

Do you have any cedars nearby? Saskatoons (Serviceberries) can be affected by apply-cedar rust. (just a thought)

I'd also check out Burnt Ridge Nursery as they are closer to you and I know they stock both kinds of Serviceberries too.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 2:15PM
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I'll second the recommendation for Burnt Ridge.

Chills, what varieties are you growing that taste as good as fresh blueberries? I ask because I'd like to give that variety a try. I've got some unnamed seedlings from BR that have fruited and some Smokey and ornamental Robin Hill plants that haven't. I've also tried what I recall as being Regent at Edible Landscaping.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 5:45PM
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alan haigh

Why would you compare the two? They are completely different fruits that happen to be the same size and color. Saskatoons don't perform at all well here in southeastern NY and plum curculio love them. We grow other Amelanchier though and I enjoy them, but they are not nearly as useful as blueberries because of their very short season. They don't call them Juneberries for nothing. I love their taste with all that almond background but they are not as universally popular as blueberries and if I had unlimited access to both I'd probably eat 10X as many BBs.

Maybe the plains Saskatoons aren't quite the same as the amelanchia Canadensis that I harvest here. I apologize for my abysmal spelling.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 7:58PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Saskatoons have a very slight almond flavor to the berry, which makes them a bit different from blue berries, but they can be used the same way with the same effect, although when cooked I think saskatoons taste better.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 12:51AM
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I'm with the harvestman on this one.
I grow both, and by all means, if you have the space and nothing else to put there, or if blueberries just will not work for you, I'd recommend planting some saskatoons - Smokey & Regent are good, the Lee selections may be better, if you can find them.
But they're very different fruits, and in my orchard/garden, the blueberries win, hands-down, for overall productivity, length of season, and general utility.
I've got 8 or 10 A.alnifolia varieties, some of which have been in the ground for 12-15 years. I manage to beat the birds to a handful or two of small berries most years, but if I was counting on enough to make a pie, or put up for later consumption, I'd be dreaming.
Blueberries, on the other hand, produce over a period of 4-6 weeks or more - I can pick a couple of gallons of BBs every day for weeks.
I've got some seedling A.Xgrandiflora that I planted at my kids' school that are more productive than the named-variety A.alnifolias, and I like the taste of the fruit, but they're soft & mushy when ripe - don't stand up to any sort of handling. Nice for eating right off the bush, and, I suppose, would probably make a nice cobbler if you took 'em right home and cooked it.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 8:34AM
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alan haigh

If you are only getting a spread of 4 to 6 weeks from your blueberries I suggest you add Elliot to the mix- my harvest last 10 weeks or more here in southeastern NY and Elliot is responsible for the last 3 weeks of it.

Obviously you would have to net either fruit in most locations to get large yealds although the amelanchier ripen so quickly and the birds are reluctant to eat them green so you can sometimes get a decent amount here from unnetted trees. Not as likely with BBs

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 6:26PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

I planted a couple of bushes Saskatoon's in my backyard many years ago, when they came to production the Robins eat them off already half green.
The following year I netted them but it was killing the birds.
Are there nettings what doesn't kill birds?
So then I got rid of the Saskatoon since, around here you can pick more out in the bushes then you can ever grow yourself, this was the best thing to do.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 9:20PM
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alan haigh

Yes, there are. The woven netting that Tree Essentials and others sell is the commercial approach. It is much more expensive than mono-filament but considerably easier to install- it can be thrown over the tree without a frame and removed without too much hassle. It lasts much longer because of its greater strength and the fact you don't have to tear it up to much removing it.

It is white with 3 wide dark stripes to help position it. If you search the internet you may find a source for 30' wide rolls, the minimum for a 14' fruit tree. The rolls come in 700' lengths but there may be sources for smaller quantities if you look.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 6:48AM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

Hi Harvestman-
I'm trying to determine if the bird netting that you're talking about is the same bird netting that I'm familar with (plastic mesh from local hardware stores). I found a, but didn't see bird netting there. Do you have a link to get me started? Thanks in advance,

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 11:18AM
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alan haigh

It is a woven white netting- two strands I think. Tree Essentials has it but it's tricky to find on the internet- I guess they have more than one site. I haven't a link- I bought my roll several years ago and can't even remember who I bought it from, but I did find it on the net and one of my customers bought some from Tree Essentials although they had a little trouble`finding it the same way you did. Also they only had it in 15' widths so they had to sew sections together. They are still quite pleased.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 5:54PM
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I've got(had) Elliott, and I probably grossly underestimated the length of my season. 8 weeks or more is probably more like it.
Alterations in the orchard plan instituted by my wife this past fall resulted in bulldozing of all my northern highbush BBs, leaving only a half-dozen rabbiteyes.
I'll be re-planting in a new site this spring, but the rabbiteyes are so much more productive than the northern highbush types, I'm not sure but that I'll be putting in all rabbiteye &/or southern highbush types.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 9:38PM
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alan haigh

That's the thing about fruit evaluation. It is so dependent on region and people are so moved by their individual experience they forget that it may not be duplicated elsewhere. Saskatoons are virtually worthless here while northern highbush blueberries, which grow naturally in our hills are very productive.

Colorado has a much more intense sun and lower humididty than what I have so I can't accurately advise someone who lives there about the relative merits of saskatoon and blueberries.

I think that people also have a kind of status attitude about growing fruits that are unusual and routinely tout them as superior to something more common. Once something is growing in my garden, novelty quickly looses all cache- a plant has to really earn its keep. More often than not unusual fruiting plants are unusual for a very good reason. Either they don't produce reliably or they simply become less pleasing to eat over time.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 1:22AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Okay, I think I'll go ahead and work with the blueberries that I already have. I'll use the method suggested on Dave Wilson's website.

I noticed a supposedly self-fertile Saskatoon in Gurney's. Is there really such a thing? If I could get by with just planting one Saskatoon I'd be happy. Can you plant them close together, sort of two-in-a-hole? (Don't worry, I won't actually order from Gurney's)

How far away from cedars should Saskatoons be planted?

Here is a link that might be useful: Blueberries in containers

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 10:02PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

I think most if not all saskatoons are self-fertile. I got mine by accident--purchased a flowering almond--it was in bloom at the time (I'd never looked flowering almonds closely except when in bloom previously) from a local nursery, the next year there were several stems growing and after a few years, I figured out there were 2 separate bushes in what I planted. A couple years later I identified them--I had a red twig dogwood and a saskatoon. The flowering almond had died.

Anyway, the saskatoon sets abundant fruit every year, but there are no others within 5 miles and probably 20 miles. Birds love them. I get a few.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 1:06AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

>>How far away from cedars should Saskatoons be planted?As far as possible in your yard, plant and see... it's never a guarantee.
Beeone is only need one.

Thanks Harvestman on the netting, I'll have to check next time, hopefully they have some smaller sizes.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 1:49AM
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