Other Common Names Include: Edible Blue Honeysuckle, Honeyberry, Swamp Fly Honeysuckle
Latin Name: Lonicera caerulea
Plant Family: Caprifoliaceae
Close Relatives: Ornamental honeysuckle
Uses and Markets: Culinary (e.g. fresh fruit and processed food/drink products such as jam, ice cream juice and wine). Medicinal (e.g. fruit and leaves are high in antioxidants, can be used in the treatment of fever and abdominal pains).
Production Life Cycle in Ontario
Pollenisor plants are suggested for optimal yields. A ratio of 1 pollenisor plant for every 8 plants of the main variety is suggested. Different varieties are suitable for different end uses (e.g. fresh market, pick-your-own, or processed).
Most commonly by transplants from tissue culture, soft or hardwood cuttings.
Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates
Field Seeding Date:
Field Transplanting Dates
Mid May to late June
0.75m for hedges; 1.3m or more for individual bushes.
Between row spacing
2.5 m or more depending on equipment and harvest method.
Optimal Soil temperature at planting
Not available. In general, perennial crops can tolerate low soil temperatures at planting but will establish more rapidly at soil temperatures >10°C.
No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. Based on similar fruiting species, a good starting point for nitrogen application rates would be in the range of 30-50 kg N/ha. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility. Fertilizer should be applied only in the spring and early summer to prevent lush growth late in the season.
All soil types. Avoid saturated soils.
Special requirements for growth habit
Optimal Temperature Range
Freeze tolerant. Viable blossoms have been noted below -6°C..
Irrigation required under normal Ontario conditions.
Days to harvest
Typically requires 3 years before first significant harvest. In Ontario, blossoming typically occurs in April to early May. Fruit ripening typically begins at the end of May.
Mechanical berry harvesters are available.
Late May to early June. Single harvest for mechanical harvesters; multiple harvests for hand picking.
Hand harvest or machine harvest
Hand harvest and machine harvest. The cost of the harvesting equipment will dictate the minimum acreage required for economic viability.
No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.
Additional Harvest Notes
It can be difficult to determine when fruit is ready for harvest. Skin colour should exhibit a deep purple colour. If green tissue is still visible inside the fruit, wait approximately 5-7 days before attempting harvest. Fruit can remain on the plant for long periods of time without showing signs of degradation if adequate moisture is available.
Relative humidity (RH): >95%
Air Exchange: N/A
Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)
Insects and Invertebrates: Stem borers, leaf miners
Diseases: Powdery mildew
Other: Birds, deer, rabbits
Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).
Insects and Invertebrates: Spotted wing drosophila, aphids, scale insects, torticid leaf rollers, chafer (Scarab beetles), root weevils
Diseases: Botrytis rot
*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.
To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: birds. Birds have caused major crop loss in some areas of Ontario – netting may be required. Spotted wing drosophila has not been detected in haskap to date, but is a serious pest of other berry crops in Ontario. For more information on spotted wing drosophila, refer to the OMAFRA website at www.ontario.ca/spottedwing.
Edible honeysuckle, Lonicera caerula var. emphyllocalyx, is in Crop Group 13-07: Berry and Small Fruit Crop Group and subgroup 13-07B, Bushberry Subgroup. Other varieties of L. caerula are not included in this crop group. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section. Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product. For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.
Leaves exposed to bright sunlight or windy locations may exhibit sunscald symptoms in late July to early August.
- Elford, E and A. Sullivan. 2010-present. Ontario haskap cultivar assessments. Simcoe and Elora Research Stations, unpublished.
- Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAFRA herb demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
- Bors, B. Growing Haskap in Canada. University of Saskatchewan. URL: http://www.fruit.usask.ca/articles/growinghaskapinCanada.pdf
- Thompson, M. M. 2001. Introducing Haskap, Japanese Blue Honeysuckle. Journal of American Pomological Society 60:164-168.
- Ochmian, I., Grajkowski, J., and K. Skupien. 2010. Yield and Chemical Composition of the Blue Honeysuckle Fruit Depending on Ripening Time. Bul. UASVM Horticulture 67 (1).
- Ochmian, I., Grajkowski, J., and K. Skupien. 2008. Field performance, field chemical composition and firmness under cold storage and simulated ``shelf-life`` conditions of three Blue Honeysuckle cultigens. Journal of Fruit and Ornamental Plant Research, 16:83-91.
- Hummer, Kim E. 2006. Blue Honeysuckle: A new berry crop for North America. Journal of the American Pomological Society 60:3-8.
- Bors, B and R. Sawatzkty. 2008. Growing Haskap.