Planting Guide

 

Basics

Sun

-Aronia does best in full sun

-but will also grow in full shade

      Mulch / Compost  - Why consider using it?

-retain water   

-protect roots from high and low temperature stresses

-protect against premature flowering (frost insurance)

-suppress weeds

-build soil We like to side dress leaves along the aronia hedge every fall.


Mulch material options

-Leaves

-wood chips

-corn fodder

-grasses

-compost

Planting Methods


-Shovel

-Bulb planter

-Auger

-Waterwheel

-Tree planter


When to Plant


If you have irrigation and mulch you can really plant anytime of year the ground isn’t frozen.

However

Ideal times to plant are:

-Early Spring

-Early Fall

Commercial Planting ideas

                   Planting Tips

Soil Sample

Have a soil sample analyzed if there is any doubt about your soil conditions and amend soil as needed.


Watering

Aronia will tolerate more water than most plants.

-Keep them watered especially while first establishing your planting.


Fertilizer / Nutrients

The right fertilizers at the right time can increase growth and yields.

  1. -We recommend getting a crop consultant to help with this.  Some expenses pay for themselves.

Plant Spacing / Row Spacing



Commercial Production Style

Historically, commercial plantings of aronia where done in a hedge row, Leaving enough room to drive a tractor in between the rows when mature.

Row Spacing

12-15 ft

Plant Spacing

24-36”




Hand Harvesting Style

This style can work if you plan to harvest by hand, or use a self-propelled harvester (requires less row width).  This method generally requires crosscheck mowing or weed whacking around young bushes which tends to be more labor intensive.

Row Spacing

10 ft

Plant Spacing

4-6 ft


We’ve tried most of these methods and found the tree planter to be the fastest and easiest.

Newspapers or cardboard make a great weed barrier to be mulched over.

Less stress on plants than in the heat of the summer.

This style is commonly seen in Europe, and is what we recommend for ease of care and mechanical harvesting

Left:  alfalfa crop growing between two year old aronia bushes.  30” x 15’

Hope this is helpful!

             Inter-row Cropping


Bale Crops


We grow alfalfa between our rows.  This is up to a $500/acre income source while waiting for the bushes to mature.   Alfalfa also adds nitrogen to the soil.  The average life of alfalfa is 5 years.






Other inter-row crop ideas

-crops to mulch aronia bushes with

-pasture grasses for equestrian purposes

-annuals / vegetables...

We get leaf mulch from our local village’s fall leaf collection

Note:  When laying out row width, it may be smart to measure the width of hay making equipment to be sure it will fit down the row.

Right: tree planter

                  Irrigation


Precipitation


In Southern Wisconsin where we are located average annual precipitation is 36.5”.  Compared to Omaha NE at 30”, Eastern South Dakota around 25”, or Washington DC at 40”.


Costs


-A drip irrigation system cost us about $2000/acre not including a water source,  We were lucky enough to have access to a water source.


Benefits


-We found irrigation to be almost essential in establishing plants. (unless you time a late fall or early spring planting well and get lucky with rain.)


-2011 our drip irrigation system was completed and ran for July and Aug.  Several benefits of this included:

-increased plant growth

-new canes popping up

-increased berry size

-increased harvest window


Above: Hay mowing between aronia rows

Above: Helping establish a new alfalfa and aronia crop with some overhead irrigation

A grower in Ill. tells me he was averaging 2lbs/plant in 2 years with the help of a drip system

Soil PH

-Aronia will tolerate 5.3 - 7.5

-Aronia does best with a slightly acidic soil PH between 6.1-6.7.

Left: a modified chopper box with a side discharge used for mulching plants.