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Monday, February 25, 2013

A Sea Buckthorn Summary

It may be time to consolidate some of the information here.  I am just a simple gardener with dreams and like to share and I think a summary might be good.

February 25, 2013 -
Right now, sea buckthorn and its fruit, seaberries, is gaining in popularity around the world.  North America may be the area where it is lesser known yet everywhere there is great upside potential.  The plant can be used as shelterbelt planting, as erosion control from the mountains to the shorline, as an integral part of permaculture systems, in a huge number of medical applications, and may help save ocean ecosystems!
That last point may have surprised you (the ocean?).
For example:  Krill is a cold water small shrimp which is critical as it is near the bottom of the ocean's food chain.  Krill increasingly are harvested for their omega oils.  Sea Buckthorn can be harvested for the same oils and, if more is needed, planting more is the answer.  Krill harvesting for human consumption is a far more finite and destructive practice.

Sea Buckthorn needs a stable production, harvesting, and processing system to meet demands such as these.  China so far is leading the way in this area with millions of acres and hundreds of processing facilities.  Russia has had significant production since the 1940's.

I suspect if one were to travel to China, Russia, and Germany, where the largest modern or semi-modern commercial sea buckthorn agriculture is practiced, that trip would reap a wealth of practical information yet to be documented.

Growing
Sea buckthorn can be grown from seeds, from rooted cuttings, or from the cutting of roots which are producing suckers.

Climate limitations are primarily shade, not receiving at least 800 hours of cold dormancy, and moisture which avoids the extremes of bog/flood and desert.

Plants are either male or female.  Orchard spacing and distribution should be carefully planned for productivity.  For both the home gardener and commercial producer, one male to every 7 females is a good rule of thumb.

Soil requirements for sea buckthorn are best described as a light to medium loam which is well drained. Compacted, weedy, and residual herbicide levels in soils should be corrected or avoided.    I have read statements which imply sea buckthorn can grow in sand, in clay, and in water.  Extremes in soil composition are not recommended.  The Ph of the soil is ideal between 6-7.   Soil amendments should not include Nitrogen (except when plants are first set out) as it my interfere with the plants own nitrogen fixing mechanisms and its symbiotic relationship with the frankia bacteria found on the roots.  Phosphorous fertilizer is good where needed.

Row spacing is 1meter/3feet between plants and 4 meters/12 feet between rows.  Between row spacing depends greatly on the method of harvesting you plan or envision in the future as orchards remain productive for 15-20 years.

Moisture sensitivity is most evident during flowering and when the plants are young.  Otherwise, approximately 200mm/8inches of rain per growing season is ideal.

Diseases affecting sea buckthorn include verticillium wilt, bacterial leaf spot, leaf blight, and fusarium wilt.

Insect pests include aphids, leaf roller, gypsy moth, winter moth, june bug, gall tick, scale, thrips, and two spotted mites.

Animal pests include deer, rodents (including rabbits) livestock, gophers, and birds.

Weed control is needed to reduce the mortality of seedlings and young plants.  Plants begin  to shade out the weeds near their base in the third year (from seed).  Pruning may affect this.  Mechanical opposed to chemical weeding is preferred. Mulch either organic or plastic/fabric ok.

Basic pruning to train branches and eliminate dead/diseased or overlapping branches should be done annually.  Limit long branches to promote lateral shoots.

Harvesting is accomplished by hand picking or branch removal and freezing with subsequent shaking or mechanical removal of the frozen berries.  New methods are under development for mechanical harvesting of unfrozen, ripe berries from the plant.

Most of the topics above are discussed in detail in previous posts and will undoubtedly be revisited as new information becomes available and as I document my own experiences.  I encourage anyone to use the topic index or search box to the right to find out more.

Your experiences are valuable, please share in the comment section.









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