[NAFEX] Eldon Everhart article about Aronia
Sam.Brungardt at state.mn.us
Fri Jan 5 16:23:18 EST 2007
I am sharing the text of an article that ran in the Fall 2006 issue of
The Iowa Horticulturist. It is reprinted with permission from The Iowa
Horticulturist, Vol. 22, No. 4, 2006. This magazine is published by the
The Iowa State Horticultural Society http://www.iowahort.org/ . -- Sam
Brungardt, St. Paul, Minn. (USDA Zone 4b)
Aronia melanocapra "New Crop" for Iowa
By Eldon Everhart, horticulture specialist, Iowa State University
Black chokeberry is the common name for Aronia melanocarpa. This
deciduous shrub is native to eastern United States including Iowa. It
was well known to Native Americans and pioneers.
Early in the 20th century, Aronia was introduced to Eastern Europe,
Scandinavia, and Russia where high quality, large fruited cultivars were
developed. In the last ten years, these improved cultivars have been
"reintroduced" to the United States.
It is important to note that Aronia is not a chokecherry. Chokecherry
is a member of the genus Prunus which also includes cherry, apricot,
plum, peach, and nectarine. These plants are susceptible to many pests.
Chokeberry is not harmed by insects or diseases and birds do not eat the
ripening fruit. Pruning and care is easy and requires little time. It
is well suited to organic or conventional fruit production and
ornamental landscape plantings.
The biggest commercial Aronia berry plantation in the Midwest is near
Missouri Valley in western Iowa. Last fall a field day was held at this
plantation known as Sawmille Hollow and owned by Vaughn and Cindy Pittz.
The field day was sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and
Sawmill Hollow, Inc. It was supported by a SARE grant.
More than 80 people participated in the field day. They were treated to
the delicious taste of many products made from Aronia berries including
bread and other baked goods, salsa, barbeque sauce, jams, jellies,
juice, and Aronia wine. Field day participants also got to pick and eat
fresh ripe berries from the many rows of 'Viking' Aronia bushes.
The pea-sized, violet-black berries are harvested in late August or
early September. The berries have a dry and sour flavor. They can be
eaten fresh or preserved by freezing or canning. In addition to the
products served at the field day, Aronia fruit or fruit juice can be
used to make tea, pie, cookies, syrup, and candy or to flavor and color
yogurt, sorbet, milk, and other products.
Aronia juice is increasingly being used in the food industry to supply a
natural red color in products. It can be blended with apple juice and
other fruit juice to give the juice a blush. Aronia juice has a high
percentage of natural pigments that hold their color well. They can be
blended with other juices and wines to add a stable color.
Aronia berries contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, quinic acid,
antioxidants, and polyphenols. Research has show that Aronia has more
antioxidant power than other fruits including grapes, blueberries,
prunes, bananas, apples, and pears. Aronia has 5 to 10 times as much
anthocyanins and falvonoids as cranberries. These compounds are known
to reduce the potential for cancer and heart disease.
Chokeberry also has many exceptional ornamental landscape qualities
including white flowers in late spring and shiny, dark green leaves that
are thick and not tattered by wind or pests. Its red fall color
contrasts with its dark berries.
Aronia is cold hardy to at least USDA Zone 3. Its late blooms avoid
spring frosts. The plants grow well on various soils as long as they
are well drianed. The optimum pH is slightly acid, but has a wide
Mature plants grow 8 feet tall with 40 or more shoots. Removal of older
shoots or pruning to the ground every three years will renew the plants
and help them produce more flowers and larger berries.
More Aronia Information
Plants and products made from Aronia berries are available from:
Vaughn & Cindy Pittz
Sawmill Hollow Inc.
P.O. Box 126
2159 Kennedy Ave
Missouri Valley, IA 51555
vpittz at iowatelecom.net
For help starting a commercial Aronia plantation or information about
home fruit production or landscape plantings, or to schedule a slide
presentation about Aronia for a group, contact:
Dr. Eldon Everhart, horticulture specialist
Iowa State University
906 6th St.
Harlan, IA 51537
everhart at iastate.edu
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