Aronia plants are easy to grow and they will grow in many different garden soils. Aronia berries have high levels of vitamins and antioxidants, growing them can be a valuable addition to any home garden or field.
General Aronia Growing Ideas
Buy your plants from a reputable nursery. The best buy is usually two-year-old plants. You should start getting some berries the following year. This will give you a berry harvest very soon. Aronia plant varieties for fruit production are Viking and Nero. Buy one of these varieties for fruit production.
Aronia shrubs are not very picky when it comes to the soil in which they are planted. They are well suited for a large number of soil types. Aronia shrubs are some of the best at coping with very wet winter soils that can be caused by slow drainage and in dry summer soils.
To find out if you have suitable garden soil, take a sample to your local county agent and have it tested. Soil testing is one of the major findings when it comes to gardening and growing plants. Your local extension agent can be a great resource for information. If your soil is not really suitable, the report should tell you what you need to do. You can change the soil by adding organic matter to the soil. Soils with a high clay content tend to be very fertile. This is because the microscopically dispersed clay particles have the capacity to form chemical bonds with the elements or compounds that are essential for plant growth in the soil. Adding organic matter to soil will improve soil fertility; helps to reduce soil compaction of clay soil and increase water flow through the soil. Adding organic material will also increase and increase the air space in the clay soil and make the soil more inclined. Sandy soils tend to be more acidic than the more fertile clays and clays that are rich in nutrients. Adding organic material to sandy soil will increase its fertility and water strength.
The optimal pH level for growing aronia is slightly acidic (6-6.5), but aronia can withstand a wider pH range (5-8.5). You can deliver a soil sample to your county agent for analysis. The report will tell you if anything is needed to change your soil.
Aronia plants are not drought tolerant but they can usually dry summer soil once established. They need watering for maximum fruit production. Once the plants are established, water them as needed usually once or twice a week when they are dry. You must take into account the latest amount of precipitation before watering the landscape. The following guidelines may be helpful for an area of acres or so. Be prepared to provide several hours of irrigation with drip irrigation a couple of times a week for an entire year if rain is not abundant this will increase the likelihood of success for plants to survive. Insufficient water after planting is the leading cause of death for newly planted shrubs.
Water your plants at the right time
Water your plants when needed, while the sun is down between about midnight and 8 o’clock with a timer. This can save up to 700 liters of water every month by reducing evaporation caused by sun and wind through watering. This time is when the plants are most susceptible to water. The most basic principle of watering is a very simple one: Never water in the evening or in the middle of the day. Morning is always the best time to water. The roots of the plant are most capable of receiving water in the morning and will utilize all the moisture that you provide most effectively. Plants are also most likely to receive water in the morning, as the leaf cells “open up” to accept the morning dew. This is why early in the morning is the best time of day for leaf feeding with compost tea directly on plants. Never water while the sun is shining! Late afternoon or early evening is the worst time to water because the plant cells have been shut down and will not reopen until the sun goes down!
Use drip irrigation system for your aronia bushes and can save up to 375 liters of water every month. Make sure that your drip irrigation heads are not clogged or broken. Check that the system is not leaking and that the water is directed at your plants
Fix leaks that deliver in your irrigation system and save many gallons each month. Plants Once Established If your property does not get enough rain each year, you should water your plants as needed. Most plants generally need at least 1 inch of water per week. But often watering risks the roots of the plants remaining wet, over watering and standing water can cause the roots of the plants to drown and rot in the soil. The roots of the plant must dry out between waterings. These simple tips save water, help protect the environment and reduce tooling costs for water and the energy required to pump it.
Increasing the amount of organic matter is probably one of the most important things you can do to improve your soil. Decomposed compost in the soil is a necessity for successful aronia planting. Add your own compost, leaves, grass clippings or manure to the soil and mix it well. A soil mixture should contain about 2% to 5% organic matter. Sandy soil should contain almost 2% or 3% and clay soil needs 4% to 5%. By spreading a layer of about 4 inches of organic milk around plants, it helps retain moisture and saves water, time and money.
Mulching is one of the most important ways to maintain healthy plants. Mulching reduces the amount of evaporation from the ground surface and reduces the need for irrigation by about 50 percent. Using about 4 inches of organic mulch can save up to 750 gallons of water each month. Mulch helps keep plants cool, reduces evaporation, nourishes and helps control weeds.
Green manure crops
Cover crops, also called green manure, are an important way to improve texture, aeration and add nitrogen. Cover crops support and encourage microorganisms and worms. Planting a “green manure crop” is an effective method of improving poor soil. Crops such as buckwheat or winter wheat serve as a good crop for fertilizer crops. Other crop fertilizers can include legumes such as cowpeas, soybeans, annual sweet clover, vetch, sesbania and velvet beans. Rye (Secale cereale) is perhaps the best overall green cover crop. It can be sown from August in northern and eastern Kentucky until mid-November in western Kentucky. Extremely winter-hardy varieties, such as Aroostook, should be considered if late planting is necessary. Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) is very effective in suppressing weeds and can also be used as winter cover crops. It can survive the winter and will need to be cut or by using No-Till roll down the cover crop in the spring instead of cutting it, the crop covers a longer time to decompose and becomes a weed-suppressing clover. Use about the same seed as annual ryegrass. High Rescue (Festuca arundinacea) can be used as a winter crop, even if it is not an annual grass. It can be sown in mid-August to September and can provide a good soil cover before winter. Send 20 to 30 kilos of seed per acre on clean tillage. Use a corrugated roller (cultivar packer) to secure the ground and press in the seed. The seed should not be covered more than ½ inches deep. Rescue can be grazed or cut for hay in early May. If it is to be used for hay. These crops improve the soil through the nutrients they absorb from the lower soil and convert them into plant organic material. This actively growing organic material is plowed underneath to incorporate roots and leaves into the soil. This is an efficient, inexpensive and ecologically sound way of building organic matter in the soil.
Weeds compete with plants for sunlight, water, nutrients and growing space. Weeds are one of the biggest threats to your crop, they grow faster than your plants and compete successfully for available resources. Consider using permeable landscaping to control weeds if too much work is required to control weeds otherwise. Weeds are an important factor in reducing farm productivity.
Pollination or fertilization is not required to set arony fruit because the flowers are bisexual and thus the plants are self-fertile. Aronia violet black berries are solid 1/3 inch in diameter and are produced in loose clusters of about 8 to 15 berries. The fruit ripens in mid-September and can be harvested over the next four to six weeks, but the berries tend to begin to shrink after ripening. The fruit and foliage are not disturbed unless at all insects or diseases. Birds do not eat the developing fruit. Bird mortality is an indicator of when to harvest. If they are not harvested, birds and game birds will eat the fruit during the winter
In one place, three-year-old Nero plants planted in clay soil with a pH of 5.7 produced the plants over 20 kilos per plant. For an acre of 670 plants, this was about 14,000 pounds per acre for the third year of field planning. This is a fairly typical return for Viking and Nero. Usually, different shrubs from Viking and Nero aronia produce about two kilos of berries per bush two years after planting. In the fourth year after planting, arona berry production is about 20 kilos per bush. The production level drops to about 20 kilos or more per plant in the fifth or sixth year after planting.
The planting density for machine harvesting is usually about 600 to 700 plants per acre. For mechanical harvesting, plants are between 3 and 5 feet apart in rows 12 feet apart. The plants produce many new shoots that will grow from the roots of established plants. These will form a hedge by filling in the space between the plants. Most new growers who have just started initially plant half to five acres and increase the number of plants later.
The growing interest in eating healthier foods has contributed to arona berries and their products increasing in popularity in recent years. The levels of vitamins, minerals and folic acids are high in the berries. Aronia berries are a little known superfood that gets a recognition that has an enormous nutritional value. Aronia berries are also one of the richest plant sources of phenolic substances, mainly anthocyanins and proanthocyanins. Tests on cultured aronia show that juice has a pH of about 3.5 and a brix of about 16.
Antioxidant capacity of fruit
Aronia tops the list of more than 100 foods that have been scientifically tested for antioxidant capacity. Aronia berries have enormous potential as a healthy superfood. Researchers have investigated how arona berries affect cardiovascular disease, liver failure, colon cancer and breast cancer and obesity.