University of Maryland Extension

Research

At Wye Research and Education Center an active orchard has been maintained and studied for over 9 years. During that time, several interesting conclusions have been drawn.

  • Aronia can be grown organically because of few pest species
  • Relatively low fertilizer rates can be use to maintain yield and fruit quality
  • Plants yield within the second year after planting
  • Can be grown at densities similar to blueberries
  • Plants tolerate a variety of soil conditions
  • Can be easily propagated from cuttings or seed
  • Plants are apomictic, meaning they self pollinate.

Results from Recent Research

Most recent results from new orchard plots show differences of yield between high and low nitrogen rates of 14 grams (1/2 ounce) nitrogen and 3 grams (1/8 ounce) per plant. The higher nitrogen rate doubled yield. While this information may not be surprising, organic fertilizers are expensive and minimal fertilizer rates were tested to see what the yield differences would truely be. Brix or soluble solids where not different between rates. 

Average fruit yield for plants by harvest year (age of plants) in plots B (planted in 2010) and C (planted in 2011), given either 1/8 oz (3 grams) or 1/2 oz (14 grams) nitrogen per plant per year. Plants given 1/2 oz nitrogen yielded more fruit. Plants in plot B were spaced 3 feet (1 meter) on center and plants in plot C were spaced 6.5 feet (2 meters) on center. While plants spaced further apart yielded more fruit per plant, more fruit was harvested per acre after the 5th harvest year from plants grown in higher densities (776 vs 426 plants acre).

Other studies being conducted in new orchard plots at Wye REC have evaluated the use of conventional fertilizers compared to organically based fertilizers on yield and fruit quality. Results are showing no differences in fertilizer source, but again greater yield has been noted in plants receiving 14 grams (1/2 ounce) nitrogen compared to 3 grams (1/8 ounce) nitrogen. These results are contrary to the earlier results in the older orchard plots. Nitrogen application recommedations should be between 1/4 and 1/2 ounce per plant per year.

Further studies being conducted in new orchard plots at Wye REC will evaluate irrigation technology to determine irrigation needs for Aronia. These Wireless Network Systems will be operating in the near future.

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