- Fruits: berries (other)
- Crop Production: food product quality/safety
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
Aronia melanocarpa, the black chokeberry, is a cold hardy, pest free, adaptable fruiting shrub
native to the northeastern U.S. that requires low inputs and thrives on marginal lands. Purpleblack
fruits produced by Aronia are around the size of blueberries and have the highest known
levels (5 times higher than cranberry and blueberry) of antioxidants (anthocyanins and
flavonoids) of any temperate fruit and also contain strong anticancer compounds. Aronia is
grown extensively in Eastern Europe and Russia where the fruits are processed and used in
beverages, wine, jelly and baked goods. In the U.S., Aronia is largely unknown as a fruit crop,
but there are no obvious limitations to prevent it from becoming popular here as well.
Preliminary work in Iowa, Oregon, Wisconsin and Nebraska has demonstrated the viability of
Aronia as a U.S. fruit crop. Iowa extension suggests Iowa will have a $21 million Aronia
industry in the next 5 years. These indicators, plus the public’s growing interest in functional
foods, points to Aronia as a viable new fruit crop for New England. This project will make
farmers aware of Aronia’s potential as a new crop. Furthermore, it will assist farmers in
developing business plans for Aronia production and help them understand how to grow, manage
and market Aronia on their farms. Growers will be provided with superior Aronia germplasm
that is best suited for New England and has the highest levels of beneficial fruit compounds.
Through this project: 1-Two growers, one in Connecticut and one in Maine, will establish Aronia
orchards to verify cultural procedures and as demonstrations sites for education of additional
growers. 2-At least 150 growers will learn about Aronia as an alternative nutraceutical fruit crop
through attendance at on-site field days and at a New England-wide symposium. 3-At least 150
growers will learn which Aronia cultivars perform best in New England, provide the greatest
health benefits to consumers and have the highest market value. At least 12 growers develop
business plans and establish Aronia orchards.
Performance targets from proposal:
Twelve farmers will each have established an average of 2 acres of aronia by the conclusion of the 4-year grant period. Average production of 15,000 lbs. of fruit per acre will yield 360,000 lbs. of fruit annually. If aronia fruit sells at $1.45 per lb., then aronia production in the Northeast from work performed with funds from this grant will result in $522,000 gross sales annually for farmers.
Verification of Target:
Telephone and/or personal visits will confirm number or acres established, type of land brought into production, yield values, selling price and amount of crop sold.