Juneberry is native to the Northwest Territories, the southern Yukon, the Canadian Prairie Provinces, and the northern plains of the United States (Mazza and Davidson, 1993). Juneberry is a shrub in the Rosaceae family with a sweet edible pome. Native American tribes used many parts of the juneberry plant and the fruit was considered a staple (St-Pierre, 2005).
The pome contains several desirable nutrients and phytochemicals. Flavonols, anthocyanins, and phenolics are desirable nutrients known to be in high quantities in the pome (Bhagwat et al., 2014; Bors, 2010). The sweetness of the pomes and the high nutritional content makes juneberry a desirable, healthy fruit choice. Compared with blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa), and raspberry (Rubus sp.), juneberry has the highest nutritional value in cyanidin—an anthocyanidin—and quercetin—a flavonol (Bhagwat et al., 2014). Native American tribes made pemmican from the fruit. Apart from the benefits of an edible pome, various parts of the plant were also used for medicine by the Native American tribes (St-Pierre, 2005).
Juneberry has great commercial potential as a fruit crop (Pruski et al., 1990). However, large-scale commercial production of juneberry has only occurred in Canada. In the 1970s, the first Canadian commercial juneberry orchard was planted. Subsequent orchards were established in the 1980s and 1990s (St-Pierre, 2005). A fruit-processing sector was successfully established in Saskatchewan where jams, jellies, sauces, frozen fruit, dried fruit, and teas were processed from juneberry fruit. The provinces of Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan in Canada are the largest juneberry producers. The Canadian Census of Agriculture indicated that the fruit acreage in Saskatchewan increased 21% from 2001 to 2006 and accounted for 28% and 34% of the orchard and commercial acreage, respectively, in the province of Saskatchewan. In 2009, ≈1300 juneberry acres were established in Saskatchewan, which contributed about one-third of Canada’s commercial juneberry acreage (Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, 2010). In North Dakota, large-scale juneberry plantings have not been explored.
Many juneberry cultivars were selected by Canadian nurseries. Several cultivars such as Parkhill, Regent, and Success are hybrids in which juneberry is one of the parents (Zatylny and St-Pierre, 2003). Presently, there are ≈26 named juneberry cultivars. ‘Success’ was the first named cultivar, released in 1887 in the United States (Zatylny et al., 2002). ‘Honeywood’ was discovered by A.J. Porter in 1955 at Parkside, Saskatchewan in his nursery named Honeywood. ‘Martin’ was selected and introduced by D. Martin in his nursery block of ‘Thiessen’ at Langham, Saskatchewan. Similarly, J.A. Wallace, in his nursery at Beaverlodge, Alberta, selected ‘Northline’ from the wild in 1958 and introduced it in 1965. In 1974, Parkhill nursery at Bismarck, ND, introduced ‘Parkhill’ which was a hybrid from Michigan. ‘Pembina’, as a wild plant, was selected by J.A. Wallace in Barrhead, Alberta, in 1932 and reselected in 1950 and introduced in 1956. A hybrid, which was named ‘Regent’, was selected by J. Candrain in Regent, ND. ‘Regent’ was introduced in 1977. ‘Smoky’ originated from Beaverlodge, Alberta. ‘Smoky’ was discovered by W.D. Albright, selection was done with Dr. W.T. Macoun, reselected and introduced by J.A Wallace in 1956. ‘Success’ is a hybrid from Pennsylvania. H.E. Van Deman of Kansas acquired the selected seedling in 1873 and introduced it in 1878. Originating from Hepburn, Saskatchewan, ‘Thiessen’, as a wild plant, was discovered by Maria Loewen Thiessen in 1906. Seedlings were obtained from her farm by G. Krahn and introduced in 1976 (Zatylny and St-Pierre, 2003).
Juneberry can adapt to a wide range of soil types but must have adequate surface and subsoil drainage and preferably a sandy loam soil. A pH of 7.0–7.5 is preferred but plants will survive a pH range from 5.5 to 8.0. Spacing of 1 to 1.5 m between plants is recommended to provide better orchard ventilation and reduce disease problems (Government of Saskatchewan Agriculture, 2004). Specific requirements for fertilizer application are not exact as specific recommendation rates are yet to be researched. Soil analysis is advised though to help supplement fields which are deficient in nutrients. Weed control is considered crucial in a juneberry orchard. It is recommended to control weeds in the early stages of orchard establishment to ensure clean fields in the future. Irrigation is essential, especially during early orchard establishment, fruiting and drought periods; otherwise natural rainfall is considered adequate. About 35,440 gal/acre of water per year at 0.13 acre-ft of water per year can be used in a trickle irrigation system. For an extended lifespan, juneberry orchards should receive proper pruning and maintenance. The enhancement of plant health, yield, and fruit quality is dependent on removing of damaged, diseased, and unproductive branches (Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, 2015).
The objective of the juneberry cultivar trial was to evaluate differences in plant size, plant yield, fruit diameter, fruit weight, and soluble solids content for 11 juneberry cultivars under North Dakota environmental conditions, including a North Dakota native species biotype available from Towner State Nursery. The North Dakota State University-North Dakota Forest Service operates the Towner State Nursery to produce conservation plants for North Dakota citizens. Since specific cultivars may not be available from U.S. nurseries, producers need to know how native material available from Towner State Nursery compared with the most commonly grown cultivars in Canada.
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