Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG)
Université Laval
 
Scope
 
Production of berries in peatlands 2002


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Team
Description

Many berries possess strong potential for cultivation on cutover peatlands after peat extraction, notably, species from the Ericaceae and Rosaceae families. The Peatland Ecology Research Group has produced a guide1 which presents current knowledge of berry production in peatlands following peat extraction.


 


This guide gives relevant information on a variety of indigenous species (such as cloudbery, chokeberry, serviceberry, elderberry, cranberry and blueberry) that present viable cultivation potential in peatlands in order to equip producers who want to invest in berry production.






Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon). Photo: G. Ayotte.






Cloudberry experiments


 


Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus L.) is a circumpolar plant with great commercial interest in Fennoscandia. In this region, the fruit picking can be an important source of income. In Canada, cloudberry represents a local commercial interest and the combination of cloudberry production and restoration of abandoned peatlands is particularly interesting. The research carried out on cloudberry and its cultivation since the Eighties were almost only in Norway and Finland. It was thus necessary to adapt the techniques to the Canadian context.


 


Tests began at the summer 2004 in order to evaluate various aspects of the cultivation method, like the impact of the water level, the relations of competition or facilitation, the impact of snow cover, the effect of the period of plantation, etc. The latest results are presented in a Cloudberry Cultivation Guide2 and in the Production of Berries in Peatland guide1. Research must go on to improve survival rates in order to move towards a commercial production of cloudberry.





 


Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus). Photo: J. Zhou.




Other peatland berries


 


A plantation of three fruit-bearing shrubs species was also carried out in spring 2004 on a cutover peatland in order to evaluate their agronomic potential and to define the appropriate production practices. The three species were: Amelanchier alnifolia, Aronia melanocarpa and Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis. Of the three species, Aronia is the one having the best agronomic potential on cutover peatlands. Sambucus, if not affected by weeds, is also an interesting species. On the other hand, the Amelanchier used in this experiment was not adapted to the conditions met on cutover peatlands. It would be however interesting to test other species of this gender, like Amelanchier bartramiana, a species which naturally grow on edges of peatlands. A minimal fertilization is essential to guarantee a good growth of the shrubs and a good fruit yield. The use of black polyethylene mulch controls weeds adequately, which improves the growth of the seedlings, especially of the Amelanchier and the Sambucus. It is however not essential for a species like the Aronia, which is tolerant to weeds.





Black chokeberry seedlings (Aronia melanocarpa) at the Saint-Bonaventure peatland, Québec. Photo: S. Boudreau.


 



 


Black chokeberry fruits in the middle of summer at the Saint-Bonaventure peatland, Québec. Photo: S. Boudreau.


 


 



Canadian elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis). Photo: G. Ayotte.


 


 


The monitoring of the experiments on the cloudberry and many other berries cultivation continues with the renewal of the Industrial Research Chair in Peatland Management.

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