Varietal Trials

Test varieties:                                                                                    As of 01/01/2014


  Over the winter of 2012-2013, all potted plants were inadequately protected from the cold.  Consequently, most died from exposure of the root systems to very cold temperatures.  Those that survived are indicated by a “#” and are considered very hardy here at the farm.  We continued to order plants throughout the winter, so we still had plants on trial during the summer of 2013.  No plants that had already been planted in the ground died during the winter of 2012-2013, although they may have suffered extensive damage to above-ground growth.

  General remarks: plants appear to need at least three years to fully acclimate.  This includes ability to go dormant earlier than they are used to.  Some varieties appear to be more adaptable than others (Wild Treasure, for example).   Our short season catches most varieties still actively growing when the first frost occurs.  For many varieties, this means that most new growth for the year is lost. Performance is related to vegetative growth, not productivity.  Productivity will be noted.  Grafted varieties (vinifera that are sensitive to phylloxera) are at a disadvantage, since common root stocks aren’t hardy enough and the graft itself is sensitive to cold.

  We have trialed grapes from rooted vines, as well as cuttings.  Rooted vines (like are offered in stores) have much more stored energy than cuttings (which I root myself).  In general, both have yielded the same results: they live for 2 to 3 years and then die.  This is most likely due to the fact that after three years the vines have exhausted their supply of buds from which to sprout.  Grapevines must produce new wood (that “hardens” off in the fall) each year in order to continue to live.  If no new wood hardens off before the first frost, the new growth dies.  The vine then has to rely on old wood (from previous years) to produce new growth the next year.  Each “bud” on a grapevine actually contains three small buds (primary, secondary, and tertiary buds).  One sprouts each year, so after three years there are no more buds left to sprout and the plant dies (this was well demonstrated by Concord).  Thus, it is critical that a grape variety be able to harden off wood each fall – a real challenge in interior Alaska where the season is too short and the change in day length is too rapid in the fall to trigger dormancy in plants (see Valiant).

  Lack of heat (less than 1000 GDD (50F) typically; average = 750; range = 450 to 1070) limits vigor of all varieties. In 2013, we erected a high tunnel over newly acquired vines and this seemed to boost performance of some, but not all varieties.  We expect that the use of high tunnels will increase the available heat to about 1300 GDD (50F) in a typical year.  Varieties such as Baltica, Valiant, Edelweiss, and Osceola Muscat (ES 8-2-43) require 1150 to 1400 GDD (50F) minimum to ripen fruit.

  Growing season is also a limitation here on the farm.  Our elevation (1500 ft) tends to protect us from late summer radiation frosts seen at lower elevations, extending our growing season to around 125 days in a typical year.  Of the varieties on trial, only Baltica has been known to ripen fruit in 120 days or slightly less.

  Except for the 2012-13 winter season, all grapevines have been protected by burial either under dirt or snow.  Thus, no canes have been exposed to midwinter air temperatures.  From other studies and anecdotal data, it is unlikely that even the hardiest varieties (including Valiant) will produce wood that survives above the snow line in winter.  While temperatures here at the farm only occasionally drop below -35F (-38C), other factors such as dryness (very low dew points and frozen soil for six months), duration of cold events (up to nine days), and fluctuating temperatures (-30F to +30F to -30F in 15 to 20 days) likely challenge the hardiness of typical Zone 3 plants.


 Raspberries & blackberries: primocane = new canes that grow from the crown of the plant.  Fluoricane = canes that have overwintered (develop a brown exfoliating bark).  (E) = erect variety, (SE) = semi-erect, (T) = trailing variety, + = thorny, - = thornless.  Almost all raspberry and blackberry varieties have been planted in the ground.   Winter temperatures have not affected the crown/root systems of either (except possibly Logan), it appears.  However, the canes have varying degrees of cold hardiness.  None of the raspberries or blackberries were killed during the 2012 – 13 winter.

  We allow all canes of trailing blackberries to grow on the ground the first year.  This maximizes the heat they experience and minimizes their exposure to strong winds, which we occasionally experience during the summer months.  It is also crucial for their survival during winter months, when snow cover keeps the ground (and berry bushes on it) above +20F.  This year (2013) we planned to experiment with thick floating row cover as a protective layer, but time and 60 mph winds prevented us from doing so.  Prior to the development of a 4-inch snow cover, temperatures dropped to 6F, with 9 inches accumulating before the first subzero temperatures. If possible, we will attempt to cover the trailing berry bushes next year.  We also discovered that all semi-erect (SE) varieties could be encouraged to grow trailing canes if the canes are pinned to the ground when they are very short.  We did this with Triple Crown and Chester and prevented all canes from growing erect, where they would not be protected by snow cover.


Peonies: Winter 2012-13 taught us a few things about peonies on the farm.  They do not survive well in pots, although one Karl Rosenfield survived two winters in a pot in the past.  We lost all peonies that were in pots.  We also lost a significant number of peonies that were planted in raised beds.  It appears that cold penetrated one foot into the sides of the beds that were exposed the most.  Beds that are raised more than 6-10 inches above the ground are prone to freezing inward from the sides.  Snow cover is an important part of protecting peonies in this climate.


Fruit trees: Except as noted below, all fruit trees and many fruiting bushes died during the winter of 2012-13.  Some notable exceptions surprised us and told us just how hardy these plants are!

  We attended an apple grafting class spring 2013 and successfully grafted 4 new-to-us varieties.


We added additional varieties for 2013.  These varieties are followed by “(2013)”.


Explanation: Bluebell = (red text) Trial has ended for this variety.  Baltica = (green text) Promising variety that will remain on trial,  Bianca = (black text) Limited trials will continue for short period of time.



            Alpenglow – Limited time on trial. Lost all over 2012-13 winter.  Probably won’t  ripen.

            Aurore – Appears too cold tender, but is so early to ripen that it may be useful in breeding

Baltica – Excellent performer.  After two years at the farm, there was enough hardened wood to produce flowers the third year (2013).  However, a lack of protection killed all of these.  Currently on round two of trials.  It will be two years before they flower.

            Beta – poor performer, growth appeared to require more heat, never hardened off in fall.

            Bianca – Grafted, but still shows some promise.  Good performer, but is slow to harden off.

Black Monnuka – a total surprise!  This vinifera variety not only survives, but grows strong and hardens off wood for the winter.  Growing season is too short to ripen fruit if it ever flowers, however.  All lost over 2012-13 winter.

            Bluebell – fair performer worthy of second trial.

            Brianna – fair performer, but requires longer season.

Buffalo  - bud break was delayed until late June (4 wks late). Poor performer

Burmunk – Grafted, white grape related to V. Amurensis. Vigorous grower, but not particularly hardy, especially grafted.  Hardened off early in fall.

Canadice – Not cold hardy enough.

Captivator – May not be hardy enough.  May run a second trial.  Good performer.

Chontay – brief experience with cuttings suggested this might be a good variety to trial, but have not initiated second trial with rooted vines.

            Clinton – poor performer that didn’t harden off very well.

            Concord – poor performer.  Requires more heat and much longer season

            Dilemma – Okay performer, but didn’t harden off in fall.

Edelweiss – currently on second round of trials with new stock.  Strong performer, but slow to harden off in first year.  May not ripen early enough.

            Einset – okay performer, but likely requires too long of a season.

            ES 6-16-30 – poor performer that requires more heat and longer season

Osceola Muscat (ES 8-2-43) – Strong performer that suckers profusely (useful when above ground growth is killed by cold).  Literature suggests it is not quite as early to ripen as Baltica, but close.  New stock has not been on trial long enough to judge.

            Frontenac – poor performer, too short of a season.

            Frontenac Gris – same as Frontenac.

GR-7 – is related to Buffalo and also appears to have delayed bud break, but hardier, so will continue trial with new stock.

Golubok – Grafted, related to V. Amurensis. Early dormancy and strong growth.  Suspect graft failed first winter.  Cutting I rooted survived one year in pot, but died for unknown reason.

Himrod – strong performer, with enough wood hardened off prior to 2012-13 winter that it might have flowered.  All died that winter.  Is a relatively early variety, but not quite as early as Interlaken (a sibling).

Interlaken – While only grown from cuttings so far, it performed adequately. Has been grown (and fruited) successfully in a greenhouse in Anchorage.  Limited cold hardiness.  Will run second trial with rooted vines.

Ivan – very early red wine variety with limited availability.  Second trial (from cuttings) started summer 2013.  Suspect it is not very cold hardy.

John Viola – did well in first trial with cuttings.  Initiated second trial with rooted vines summer 2013.

            Kay Gray – very poor performer.  Died first winter.

Kee Wah Din – surprisingly good performer from cuttings.  Want to run second trial with rooted vines.

            King of the North – poor performer that requires much more heat.

            LaCrescent – low vigor here.  Probably requires a longer growing season.

LaCrosse –returned with equal vigor for three years.  Appeared to have hardened off sufficient wood prior to winter 2012-13 to flower, but died.  Requires a long growing season, so probably won’t trial it again.

            Lakemont – Late ripening relative of Himrod.  Numerous trials all failed.

            Landot Noir – Late budding (July 1), low vigor.

Leon Millot – possibly a good performer at the farm.  Was vigorous as cuttings.  Last summer we allowed two rooted vines to flower and fruit from buds developed at the nursery we bought them from.  The fruit remained small, but completed verasion in early September!  A taste test showed they were far from ripe, but some did taste like grapes, without being too sour – though they lacked sugar.  They may need a longer time to harden off wood in the fall, however.

Louise Swenson – very disappointing performance from a “very hardy” grapevine.  Louise had almost no vigor during the trial and failed to bud out after the first winter.

Marechal Foch – Did well from cuttings (was one of three that hardened off enough wood to bud from prior year’s growth).  Have yet to trial from rooted vines, but requires longer season that sibling Leon Millot.  Makes better wine, though.

Marquette – a disappointing grape, considering the praise it is receiving in the Lower 48.  Marquette has very low vigor here and does not harden off wood for the winter.  We are currently on our second trial of this variety.  Some say it is prone to trunk damage in cold conditions, as well.

Mars – a real surprise!  Mars seems to harden wood off fairly well in the fall.  It also has an early bud break.  Unfortunately, it was lost in winter 2012-13.  Enough wood had hardened off that it might have flowered.

MN 78 – was unsuccessful at rooting cuttings.  Need to start second trial.

Niagara – excessively vigorous, but suffered from potassium deficiency and didn’t return after the first winter.  Requires long, warm growing season to ripen fruit.

Norway Red – Was unsuccessful at rooting cuttings.  Need to start second trial.

NY 30454  - was a substitute for Aurore as a cutting.  Has Zinfandel in its lineage.  Was moderately vigorous, but never hardened off wood for the winter.  I’ve read about it being grown in England.

            Optima – Grafted.  Not a good fit for the farm.  Not cold hardy.

Ortega – Grafted.  Is popular in some parts of the Pacific Northwest, but is too cool here for it.  Not cold hardy.

Petite Jewel – unsuccessful at rooting cuttings.  Will start new trial with rooted vines in 2014.

Prairie Star – Typical of cold-hardy varieties from the Midwestern US.  Requires more heat and a longer season than we have here.  Only trialed as cutting.

Price – had high hopes for this one.  Fairly cold hardy and early to ripen. Cuttings had low vigor and only a couple made it the second year.  None returned after that.  Still considering a second trial with rooted vines.

Reliance – Trialed as cuttings.  Very low vigor.  Died first winter.

Rondo – Grafted. This is a popular variety in Denmark and other cool summer areas.  Not particularly cold hardy.  Our first trial seemed to have low vigor, and then the trunk it was grafted to split open, killing it.  We plan to trial it again and place it in a hoop house.

Sabrevois – Sister to St. Croix, Sabrevois requires too long of a growing season.  Didn’t return after its first winter here.

Seneca (2013) – Eastern US grape variety that performed well this summer, but was unable to ripen a well-developed cluster before a hard freeze.  The cluster was perfectly shaped and each berry was just under ½” in diameter, but the grapes were extremely hard and sour.

            Siegerrebe – bud break is too late (early July). Poor performer.

Sipaska – Surprisingly strong grower, with significant wood hardened off by first frost.  Canes can grow 5 ft in one summer.  May have flowered summer 2013 if all hadn’t died during winter 2012-13.

Skujins 675 – A short-season white grape from the Baltic region.  It has not been very vigorous for us.  It also did not have good cold hardiness.  We are planning a second trial with it, however.

Somerset Seedless – shows low vigor and a tendency for leaf curl.  We tried more and less water, but neither reduced the leaf curl.  This is supposed to be the earliest seedless grape and relatively cold hardy.  It has difficulty hardening off wood for the winter.  Will continue to evaluate.

St. Croix – Difficult to root from cuttings.  Those that rooted died during their first winter.  St. Croix is known to have a root system that is less tolerant of cold than other similar varieties.

St. Pepin – Showed some promise early on, but had difficulty hardening off wood.  Likely requires a long growing season.

            Suffolk Red – vigorous, late budding, but too cold tender.

            Swenson Red – bud break is too late (July 1st). Poor performer.

            Swenson White – moderate vigor, but requires too long of a season.

Thompson Seedless – very surprising!  One of two survived first winter.  Growth rate was dependent on how dense soil was.  Figured they wouldn’t survive.

Totmur – Very early white wine grape.  Hardened off well, even from cuttings.  Was only variety besides Valiant and Marechal Foch to bud from previous year’s growth.  Have started second trial with cuttings.  Putting them in the hoop house increased their vigor significantly (which was already good for a cutting).

Trollhaugen – poor performer and not cold hardy enough.

Valiant – mixed results with this variety.  While it is claimed to be hardy to -50F, hardiness requires that the new growth harden off.  Valiant is strongly dependent on day length to harden off (Lombough, Ron, The Grape Grower).  It is reported that Valiant is frequently dormant by the end of September.  During the fall in interior Alaska, day length decreases much more rapidly than in the Lower 48.  Here at the farm, Valiant does not begin going dormant until mid-September, with the result being that all new growth succumbs to the first hard frost (usually the 3rd week in September).  Initial trials with cuttings (which were rooted in March and thus provided a longer growing season), some hardened new wood was apparent.  However, those cuttings died (possibly due to winter dehydration).  The second trial, using rooted vines, ended with the winter of 2012-13, but no new growth hardened off in the prior two years.

            Vanessa – good performer, but unsure if it will ripen fruit.  Hardens off some wood each winter.

Vitis Amurensis – began trials with potted plants from Oregon, but they never grew much and eventually died.  Sprouted from seed January 2013.  Showed strong growth and the expected early dormancy I saw in the potted plants.  Much better growth than Oregon plants, so we are hopeful.  V. Amurensis is in lineage of Baltica.  Amurensis originated in southern Siberia/northern China and is known to be moderately hardy (to -30F), early to go dormant (the earliest here at the farm), and quick to bud out in warm weather (i.e., requires very short chilling period, between 30F and 45F).  A seedling that has been inside the house since last spring, broke dormancy on December 22, 2013, while still inside a 65F house).

Zilga – Russian white grape.  Has not been particularly vigorous at the farm.  Slow to harden off in the fall.  Started second trial in 2013, having lost others over winter 2012-13.



Raspberries: (season: early = 1st of August, mid = 15th of August, late = late August/early Sept.)

            All raspberries are planted in the ground


            (R) Autumn Britten – plant stock was dead on arrival.

(R) Latham – disappointing “cold hardy” variety that produces okay-tasting berries, low vigor here.  Less affected by fluctuating winter temps than Boyne. Midseason.

(R) Boyne – Berries are tart, plants are productive as long as temperatures aren’t too cold.  Fluctuating winter temperatures result in extensive cane death. Early season.

(R) Cascade Delight – “Zone 6” surprise!  While not particularly cold hardy (dies back above midwinter snow line), this variety produced most of the raspberries I harvested after the tough 2012-13 winter season.  Fluctuating winter temperatures appeared to have no effect on productiveness of this variety.  Slow to establish and likely requires more heat than we have at the farm for optimal growth.  Flavor here is rather mild compared to other red raspberries, but it is much sweeter. Early season.

(R) Heritage – One of my favorites, but is not very cold hardy.  Primocane crop does not ripen, but still get fair production from fluoricanes. Mid-late season.

(R) Newburgh – Older plants from 2007 that survived 4 years in pots.  Not cold hardy enough, but flavor is among the best.  Berries ripen unevenly. Midseason

            (R) Meeker – Vigorous (4-5ft canes), but not cold hardy.  Canes die back completely each winter.

(R) Kiska – sour and small, but very hardy.  One of few that was unaffected by fluctuating winter temperatures. Vigorous grower. Early/midseason.

(R) Canby – Surprisingly hardy “thornless” variety.  Not grown in colder climates of Lower 48, but my neighbor and I get fairly consistent crops each year of delicious berries (if the moose don’t get them).  And the lack of thorns on the fruiting laterals means no blood lost. One of the better tasting raspberries for me.  Midseason.

            (R) Durham – plant stock was dead on arrival.  Likely too late to produce here, even on fluoricanes.

(R) Tulameen – Not cold hardy enough.  Canes die back to ground each year.  Likely too late to ripen anyway.

(R) K-81-6 (2013)– Late, cold hardy variety.  Initial observations during its first summer (2013) indicate it may not ripen any berries before the first frost.

(R) Killarney (2013) – Produced super large berries its first summer here!  Sibling of Boyne, but a week later.  Moderate vigor.

(R) Nova – supposedly a good variety where winter temperatures fluctuate.  Ours seemed particularly susceptible to root rot.  All died before the first summer ended.

(R) Willamette (2013) – Vigorous, but hardiness remains to be seen.  One of earliest raspberries in Lower 48.

(R) Prelude (2013) – Earliest red raspberry.  Was slow to establish.  Not very winter hardy.

(Y) Fall Gold – by far my favorite yellow raspberry.  Primocane fruit doesn’t ripen, but in good year fluoricane production is ample and almost all of it ripens.  Continues to ripen into October if not too cold!  Susceptible to fluctuating winter temperatures. Midseason.

(Y) Honey Queen – hardier than Fall Gold, but I don’t care for the flavor as much.  Flavor is milder and sweeter than Fall Gold.  Unaffected by fluctuating winter temperatures.  Slow to establish.  Thornier than Fall Gold and not as erect.  Fruit may weigh down canes so it touches ground. Early season.

(Y) Anne (2013)– too new to evaluate.  Is supposed to be earlier than Fall Gold.

(Y) Kiwi Gold (2013) – too new to evaluate, but berries were more orange than yellow and were tasty.

            (P) Brandywine – Not cold hardy enough.  Canes do not appear to survive the winter.

(P) Glencoe – new purple raspberry from Scotland.  Plants were slow to establish due to extreme conditions experienced shortly after we received them.  They froze back completely to the ground with the first freeze of the fall 2013.  Not particularly cold hardy.

            (B) Black Hawk – plant stock dead on arrival.  Starting a new trial this summer.

(B) Cumberland – not particularly cold hardy, but berries have excellent flavor.  In summer 2013, four year old plants produced 6 ft long canes.  Fruiting laterals do not develop very well, even with summer tip pruning, so production (if any) will be limited.  Long canes extend above winter snow line and likely will suffer cold injury.  Susceptible to fluctuating winter temperatures. Mid season

(B) Logan – I have two different plants labeled “Logan” that fruit at different times (one early and one midseason).  Neither is very cold hardy, but the berries are flavorful and similar.  Winter 2012-13 appeared to be particularly hard on this variety.  Growth of new canes was stunted.

            (B) Dundee – plant stock dead on arrival. Variety is hard to get.

(B) Bristol (2013) – Vigorous!!! And tip roots in just about anything (including gravel)!!  First year canes were trailing, but should be more arching in future years.  Very, very thorny.  Possibly a good black raspberry candidate for the farm.

(B) Huron (2013) – Received small plants, but eventually took off once established

(B) Jewel (2013) – too new to evaluate.

(B) Mac Black (2013) – too new to evaluate.

(B) Munger (2013) – too new to evaluate.





            Almost all blackberries are planted in the ground.


(E-) Apache – Newer variety that may be later than Navajo, less hardy.  Died back to ground first winter.

(E-) Arapahoe – Have had this variety on trial for 3 years.  Survived one winter in a pot with significant root damage and total cane loss.  Canes look too cold sensitive to survive winter.  Cannot lay canes on ground for winter.

(E+) Black Satin – 2013 was first summer, so too early to evaluate, but is not particularly cold hardy.

(T+) Boysenberry – cross between blackberry and raspberry.  Some report it is cold hardy with some protection.  Lost most of canes to cold injury first winter (without protection).

(SE-) Chester – supposedly the most cold-tolerant blackberry.  Is successfully grown (and ripens fruit) in Edmonton, AB.  However, winter cold kills all but 3 ft of every cane.  Here, it was much more vigorous this summer than last.  Appeared unaffected by cold prior to snow cover.

(E+) Chickasaw – to new to evaluate, but primocane fruiting will be too late for here.

(E+) Darrow – a hardy eastern variety.  We currently only have one small plant that is establishing slowly.

(E+) Ebony King – decided to plant this variety after it survived in pots over the winter with significant root injury and cane damage.  Quite vigorous the second year.  Canes are thick.  Appeared to suffer significant injury to the cane ends during the first frost. Not sure if cold will kill entire canes as they are mostly covered with snow now.

(T+) Marionberry – very thorny and purportedly not winter hardy below +10F.  However, survived the winter of 2012-13 with 6 inches of cane in tact and green.  Got two fruiting laterals off of base of cane.  As of first of October, berries had grown to near normal size, but failed to turn black.  Were about 15 berries, but none ripened.  We expect to see significant cane damage on these unless they are well protected after September 15th.  And even then . . . .

(T+) Obsidian – Similar to Marionberry, but possibly a little hardier.  All growth died first winter.  Appear prone to being blown around in high winds – to the point of breaking off canes.

(E+) Prime Ark 45 – supposed to be a relatively early primocane blackberry, but is likely too late for here.

(T+) Silvan – showed above average vigor for a blackberry summer 2012.  Otherwise, too new to evaluate.

(SE-)Triple Crown – noted as somewhat earlier than Chester, but nearly has cold hardy.  Second summer was much more vigorous than first.  Appeared unaffected by cold temperatures prior to snow cover fall 2013 (even at tips).

(T-) Wild Treasure – Possibly the best bet for blackberries at the farm!  WT grows at a moderate pace all summer (as opposed to all others, which grow mostly during latter half of summer) and shows signs of going dormant by late August.  Leaves mostly dormant by end of September.  Canes are rigid and must be handled carefully in spring to avoid breaking them.  During summer 2012, the one plant in the ground had grown a 2 ft long cane.  That cane was still intact and mostly green at the beginning of summer 2013.  However, there had been physical damage to the cane 1 inch from the crown and the entire cane eventually shriveled up and died.  The end of that cane had also burrowed into the ground and had begun to tip root.  Other than the damaged point on the cane, the entire cane appeared alive after a harsh winter.  Prior to snow cover the previous fall, temps had dropped to near zero.  The wild parent of this variety was acquired at 3,000 ft. in the Cascade Mtns of Oregon, where the summer climate is much like that here at the farm.  Growing season is longer and winter temperatures are much more mild, but frost can come early some years.  This may be a great adaptation for growing at the farm.  If we have canes that survive the winter, we are considering a “V” trellis where the point of the V is just behind the crown of the plant and the canes are tied gently to the ascending arms of the V.  The arms will most likely have to rise from the ground very gently to avoid breaking the canes.  We will tie the canes securely to the arms to prevent breakage in the wind.  This formation should hold the berries away from the dirt.

(T-) Black Diamond (2013) – moderate vigor, susceptible to drought stress. Too new to evaluate.

(E+) Cherokee – too new to evaluate.

(E+) Cheyenne – too new to evaluate.

(E+) Choctaw (2013) – earliest of the eastern blackberries, but lacks cold tolerance.

(E+) Comanche (2013) – too new to evaluate.

(SE-) Doyle’s thornless – very slow to establish.  Too new to evaluate.

(SE-) Hull (2013) – Similar lineage to Chester, but not as hardy.  Earlier than Chester. Too new to evaluate.

(E+) Ilini Hardy (2013) – Very vigorous once established, suckers from roots readily.  Too new to evaluate, but has shown hardiness to -24F in field tests.

(E+) Kiowa – Survived a bad case of root rot during shipment from nursery.  Seems particularly susceptible.  Grew very vigorously after recovering.  Too new to evaluate.

(T+) Kotata (2013) – too new to evaluate

(E-) Natchez (2013) – Vigorous once established.  Too new to evaluate.

(E-) Navajo (2013) – fairly low vigor, appears to need more heat.  Later ripening variety that may not reach maturity here.

(E-) Ouachita (2013) – Moderately vigorous, great tasting berries for an eastern variety.  First year canes were droopy, but other years are supposed to be upright.  We tasted two berries that came from last year’s wood formed at a nursery.  They were very good.

(E+) Shawnee (2013) – plant material dead on arrival.

(T+) Siskiyou (2013) – very vigorous, flexible canes are thorny.  Easy to coil into circles.  May be moderately cold hardy, especially since it is trailing.  Easily blown around in strong winds, but canes don’t appear to be damaged – except at the tips.

(T+) Southern Dewberry – We ordered three of these from a nursery this year.  They are very similar to one of the “Ebony King” bushes we got from Lowe’s a few years ago in that both are trailing (whereas Ebony King is erect).  The one from Lowe’s is the most vigorous blackberry plant we have and routinely grows 3 or 4 canes that reach 7 or 8 ft long each summer.  This is one of only two varieties on the farm that produce a significant number of fruiting laterals during the first year the cane grows (the other is Wild Treasure).  Fruiting laterals grow along the lower half of each cane before the season ends.  Some laterals are 3 ft long.  So far, these canes have not survived the winter alive.

(E+) Stenulson – a “Zone 3” blackberry.  Moderate vigor, appeared damaged by mid-September freeze.  Too new to evaluate.

(T-) Thornless Loganberry (2013) – too new to evaluate.


There are a number of other varieties we are hoping to evaluate in the next year or two including Metolius and a sibling of Wild Treasure.



Other berries:

Tayberry – Sprawling, semi-erect cross between raspberry and blackberry.  Grew very vigorously summer 2013.  Appeared to be going dormant early September, but is not supposed to be particularly hardy. They are in the ground.




            All blueberries are in pots.


Earliblue – one of the earliest eastern varieties, this one ripens early enough but lacks the hardiness and vigor of Polaris.

Northblue – vigorous, but die back each winter from cane exposure.  Have never flowered.

Polaris – One of two varieties that has produced (mostly ripe) fruit.  This is the earliest ripening blueberry on the farm, with earliblue a close second.  Strong fall winds threaten to knock the berries off before they are ripe.  A few Polaris blueberries survived the winter of 2012-13.  Their growth was severely stunted in 2013.

Bluecrop – while not really hardy enough, this variety comes back each year (except for 2013, of course).  It flowered one year, but the berries did not develop.

Bluetta – one old plant from 2007 that kept going in a pot.  Caterpillars ate the few leaves it budded out two years in a row and killed it.  Not cold hardy enough, though.

Pink Lemonade – moderately vigorous, but not cold hardy.

Duke – Love the flavor! However, not cold hardy.

Jersey – not cold hardy enough.  Died winter 2012-13

Bluejay – not cold hardy, long season

Blueray – not cold hardy, long season

Northsky  - probably hardy enough, low productivity, lost all during winter 2012-13.

Patriot – Not cold hardy enough.  Died first winter.

St. Cloud  (2013) – too new to evaluate, but it was not particularly vigorous its first year.






Quinalt – these have been growing in my yard for five years, the last two without any care!  They are too soft for me, but they do produce the berries (if you get them before the voles do).

            Ozark Beauty – two separate trials tell me that these want more heat than we get here.

            Sequoia – same as “Ozark Beauty”.

Tristar – This one is a winner for firmness and taste.  It is a few weeks earlier (mid-July) than Hecker.  Lost all of them over the winter in raised bed.

            Hecker – Good taste.  Lost all of them over the winter in raised bed.

            Hood (2013) – not hardy, but possibly the best tasting strawberry I have had!



            All cherries were in pots and died winter 2012-13


Evans Bush (Bali) – rapid growth appeared to be green when first hard freeze hit and killed new growth.  This appears to be common with Evans, as others from Edmonton, AB have indicated similar experiences.

Meteor – This tree appeared to have a disease that I only noticed after purchasing it.  It exuded a lot of sap from a number of places.  This may have weakened it.  Very vigorous grower.  Hardiness is questionable, however.

Montmorenci – Not particularly hardy, but went dormant early.  Spring 2013, sap came out of the tip of every bud.  Not sure if buds were all killed and roots weren’t or what caused that.

Carmine Jewel – very low vigor, didn’t survive winter 2012-13.

P. Besseyi – plant stock was dead on arrival

Hansen’s Bush – received plants late in summer.  They budded out, but didn’t return the next year.

Crimson Passion (2013) – Little growth first summer (similar to Carmine Jewel).



            All plums died winter 2012-13.


            Superior – moderate vigor, was damaged by first hard freeze in fall.

            LaCrescent – Greater vigor than Superior, but was also damaged by hard freeze.

Black Ice – Only plum variety that was mostly dormant by end of September.  Early ripener, but only hardy to zone 3b. 

Toka – Appeared to harden off a little better than Superior and LaCrescent, but as with others, only evaluated for one summer.



Pixwell – Two different trials have lead to the same conclusion – very low vigor, with possible bud damage due to winter temperatures.  Leaves are typically very small.  All trials have failed.

Invicta –  low vigor, died first winter (2012-13).

Orus 8 (Gooseberry/Currant cross) – moderate vigor, died first winter (2012-13).



Moose routinely browse the currant patch in mid-winter.  They are kept trimmed to 2 ft tall.  It is very easy to propagate currants at the farm – just stick them in the ground and keep well watered.


Red Lake (R) – Only variety to produce a significant volume of currants.  Ripen very late, however, at the end of September.  Suffered severe root and cane damage winter 2012-13, but appeared to recover somewhat once planted.

Wilder (R) – only produces flowers within 3 inches of the soil.  Only get berries every other year.  Berries are ½” diameter, but not very sweet.  Canes seem to experience bud damage every winter.  First leaves that emerge are very small and it takes weeks for larger leaves to emerge.

Ben Sarek (B) – The least photoperiod sensitive Scottish variety.  Still, it has yet to flower after 4 years.  Leafs out almost all the way to tip of canes.  

Consort (B) – supposedly resistant to powdery mildew, but mine are attacked every year (it likely came in on this particular plant, because we didn’t see it before).  It leafs out all the way to the tips of each cane every year.  We spray with a mix of dish soap, baking soda, oil and water to decrease the powdery mildew.  This works better than commercial fungicides

Imperial (W) – Not as hardy as the other currants and a bit odd tasting.  Most years see new leaves emerge only from the lower six inches of the plant, even though significant growth occurred the previous summer.



Victoria (#) – voles ate crown off of two that I planted in yard.  Have a second trial going currently, but only one plant made it through winter 2012-13 in a pot.



Dolgo Crab (#) – pretty hardy. still a small plant, but hope it will take off next summer.  Survived winter 2012-13 in a pot with some root damage.

Honeycrisp – highly prone to powdery mildew!  Intense spray program required! Died first winter 2012-13.

            Zestar – Died before it could be evaluated (winter 2012-13).

Yellow Transparent (2013) – looks promising!  Went dormant prior to first hard freeze.  Buds looked undamaged.  Moderately vigorous.

Trailman (apple-crab) – grew vigorously from a graft I made at the grafting workshop.

I grafted three other varieties that I don’t recall the names of.  Will have to wait until we pull them out from under the house.


            Frugana – low vigor, died in a pot winer 2012-13.

            Several unnamed – much more vigorous growth than Frugana, but died in a pot winter 2012-13.

Orange September (2013) – pretty much same as other seabuckthorns – little new growth this summer.  Not sure if they will make it at the farm.



Nero – Low vigor and died winter 2012-13.  Would like to initiate second trial, but they may not ripen early enough.

            Viking – same as Nero.




                        Andrey – moderate vigor, didn’t survive winter 2012-13.

                        Natasha – moderate vigor, didn’t survive winter 2012-13.

Tatyana – Most vigorous of the three Argutas, but as with the others, didn’t survive winter 2012-13.

Kolomikta (#) – Female is particularly hardy.  Survived unscathed in a 1-gallon pot over the 2012-13 winter.  Grows much more slowly than male (had two males survive the winter with lots of cane damage).  Female is dormant by mid-September and even survived budding out late August and going dormant within one month the first year I had it! 



            Johns – low vigor, didn’t harden off before first frost.  Died winter 2012-13.

            Nova – same as Johns.



Manchurian – plant stock was exposed to excessively cold temperatures after beginning to bud out when I received them.  Both died the first winter.

Adirondack Gold (#)– Strain of Manchurian apricot.  Survived harsh winter of 2012 -13 unharmed!  Goes dormant by mid-September.  Has not flowered yet, but is supposed to be self-fruitful.

            Moongold – plant stock dead on arrival.

            Sungold – plant stock dead on arrival.



Honeyberries (Haskaps):

Tundra (#) – I believe this one produced a few fruits summer 2013.  They remained very sour even though I left them on the bush for three extra weeks after they colored up.  Not a favorite.  Slow growing plant, but obviously very cold hardy.

            Borealis (#) – very cold hardy. Low vigor plant.

Blue Bell (#) – to me the best tasting of the honeyberries we have.  Very similar flavor to grapes.  Very small size!  Flowers are very frost tolerant and they bud with the first leaves.  Fruit will hang for weeks without changing after ripening.


Serviceberries (Juneberries):

Martin – received a poorly developed cutting from nursery, low vigor first summer, died winter 2012-13.

Northline (#) – More susceptible to rose rust than Regent.  Slow to establish.  Tasted first berries summer 2013, not as flavorful as Regent and were later (mid-August).

Regent – by far, my favorite.  Short (only to 6 ft tall), but plenty of flavorful berries.  Makes a very “berry” tasting pie.  Early ripening (late July) if you can beat the birds!  Needs spray regimen for (orange) rose rust, which appeared to come to the farm on an Autumn brilliance serviceberry bush.  We use a mixture of dish soap, baking soda, oil, and water to inhibit rust formation.   It appears to work as well as fungicides and is cheaper.  Lost quite a few Regents due to lack of winter protection




Jersey Knight – slow to establish, but about 60% came back second year.  May have planted others too deep.

            Purple Passion – None came up in first trial.



            All died winter 2012-13



            In general, not enough experience with peonies to fully evaluate, except to say that Avis Varners and Kelways Glorious are not as hardy as Sarah Bernhardt or Festiva Maxima.


            Kelways Glorious (W)

            Festiva Maxima (W)

            Sarah Bernhardt (P)

            Marie Lemoine (W)

            Bartzella (I, Y)

            Yellow Doodle Dandy (I, Y)

            Julia Rose (I, V)

            Avis Varner (R)

            Shirley Temple (Bu)

            Coral Turm (C)

            Abalone Pearl (c)

            Mons Martin Cahuzac (P)

            Prairie Afire

            Bowl of Beauty

            Mr. Ed

            Walter Faxon

            Felix Crousse

            Karl Rosenfeldt (R)

            Dr. Alexander Fleming (P)

            Fancy Nancy (suspected variety)