Aronia berries: A sustainable nutraceutical crop for the Northeast

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $151,821.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Northeast
State: Connecticut
Project Leader:
Dr. Mark Brand
University of Connecticut

Annual Reports


  • 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

    Proposal abstract:

    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.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.