[NAFEX] commercial choke cherries?

Bernie Nikolai bnikolai at shaw.ca
Mon Jun 17 21:46:11 EDT 2002

There are numerous current attempts at commercial choke cherry production
here in Alberta and next door in Saskatchewan.  By the way, the new
"official" name here in prairie Canada is "Wild Black Cherry", it sells much
better than "chokecherry":)  Commercial plants are much more heavily
yielding than wild plants, plus the plants are hardy and productive, but
harvesting the fruit is the problem.  Commercial machine harvesting attemts
are only partially successfull, from what I can see, as the small berries
grow throughout the rather gangly bushes.  The largest chokecherry orchard
in Alberta was owned by a dentist, and he went back to being a dentist, so I
guess its not that profitable.  

$1 a pound seems riduculously low priced, no wonder they can't get any.  If
they pay $5 a pound, there would be a lot more interest.  A person can pick
a pound of apples (3 to 5 apples) in just a few seconds.  From my
chokecherry wine making, I can tell you it takes far longer than that to
pick a pound of chokecherries.  Unless you can pay the pickers only 10 cents
per hour and that will keep them happy, you just couldn't make any money at
$1 per pound due to picking costs.  Working steady and non-stop, I picked
about 40 pounds in about 8 hours, 5 pounds per hour.  That means at the
minimum wage of about $5.50 per hour here in Alberta, you would supply the
land, trees, weeding, fencing, packaging, transportation,etc, ALL FREE, PLUS
chip in about 50 cents an hour to the pickers, just to sell them to the guy
who will pay you $1 per pound.  Offer to buy his house for $5000 instead,
then act surprised when he won't go for it:)
Bernie Nikolai
Edmonton, Alberta

At 12:33 PM 6/17/02 +0000, you wrote:
>I recently called up  a new local non-grape winery and asked what fruits 
>they were short on..expecting to hear raspberries or hoping to hear 
>currants, insead it was ....."Plant choke cherries!  What I can't use I know 
>of local jam makers who will buy the rest. We pay a dollar a pound"
>We have plenty of wild chokecherries in the bush, but the crop is so thin or 
>irregular its hard to imagine picking  a hundred pounds. I have never heard 
>of a commercial planting, any one else?  Del
>Del Stubbs  www.pinewoodforge.com  ag zone2/3
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