Kamchatka berry (Lonicera caerulea L.) is a variety of blue honeysuckle, originating from the honeysuckle family. It is popularly known as Kamchatka berry, but it should actually be called Kamchatka honeysuckle. A Kamchatka berry shrub can reach the height of up to 2 meters and is a long-lived plant. It blossoms in the first half of April, and its fruits are oblong, sweet and sour, purple drupes, reminiscent of elongated blueberries. Kamchatka berry is a frost-resistant shrub, therefore it can grow in areas with a harsh climate. Its shoots withstand frosts down to -45°C, and its flowers and fruits tolerate spring frosts down to -8°C. Kamchatka berry shrubs fructify in the first year after planting already. The fruits appear from May to June. These plants are long-lived, they can be grown in the same place for many years. In addition, they are resistant to diseases and are rarely attacked by pests. There is also another reason why Kamchatka berry gets more and more popular. The price of its fruits is high enough to ensure the profitability of crops.
The Kamchatka berry shrubs grow and fructify best at sunny sites protected from wind. The species is open-pollinated, therefore it requires cross-pollination. It attracts bumblebees and bees in early spring. Kamchatka berry seedlings prefer fertile, loamy, but not heavy soils with a slightly acid to alkaline reaction. The plant likes moisture, but spring flooding may adversely affect its development.
Caring for Kamchatka berry
During the first years of growth, Kamchatka berry seedlings do not require special care. 7-10 years after planting you should thin the crown and prune the skeletal branches. After 20-25 years of cultivation, a rejuvenating cut should be made – i.e. cutting out weak shoots and shortening the oldest ones. The shrubs grow to the height of about 2 m and almost the same width. For manual harvest, Kamchatka berry seedlings should be planted at intervals of 0.7-1.0 m in a row. The distance between the rows should be 3.0 m – 3.5 m (3000 to 4000 pcs/ha) For mechanical harvesting, the row spacing of 0.5 m – 0.7 m and the distance between the rows of 4.0 m – 4 .5 m (3700 to 5000 pcs/ha) will work better.
As a producer of blueberries and Kamchatka berries, we recommend these plants for plantations, home gardens and allotments. They will provide great amount of berries for sale or for use at home – as part of the daily menu and as a raw material for preserves. A fully-grown shrub can yield from 3 to 7 kg of fruits, depending on the type of the seedling and the variety. Of course, a lot depends on good fertilisation and proper care. The varieties of Kamchatka berry differ mainly in the size and shape of the fruits. The fruits offer health-promoting properties – they are very important in the prevention of heart disease, because they strengthen the blood vessels. They also reduce blood pressure and are used in the anti-cancer diet – they are a rich source of antioxidants that help the body fight free radicals.
Preserves made of Kamchatka berry retain up to 80% of these antioxidants. In addition, the fruits strengthen the body and help to remove various toxic substances, e.g. heavy metals. They can be used for making jams, juices and liqueurs. Our farm sells seedlings to wholesale and retail customers. In the case of larger orders we offer more attractive prices.