Road Trip!

Missouri trip (1)

Elderflower harvest is underway, but we took a break for a quick road trip to Columbia, Missouri for the 2024 Comprehensive Elderberry Workshop and Orchard Tour.  

It was our first time attending this event and we spent two days learning from other elderberry growers, as well as plant breeders and researchers who work with elderberry.  Most exciting of all was the ability to talk with other growers and visit another orchard.  

Elderberry growing can be a somewhat isolated exercise. 

There’s not many commercial elderberry growers out there, and before last week we’d only ever actually seen one other developed elderberry orchard. Despite the great information available from writing and videos, you can sometimes find yourself wondering, “Huh, I wonder if i’m doing this right?”  It’s helpful to walk through another orchard, see the weed and pest pressure there, and conclude that ours falls within the range to be expected. 

Speaking of weeds, researcher Matthew Huchteman’s report on weed control methods was also reassuring.  Based on his observations the weed control methods we use - wood chip mulch and mechanical control (aka “weeding”), are as good as or better than any others.

Matthew applied different weed control techniques (landscape fabric, wood mulch, herbicide, manual weeding, and no weeding) and observed their correlation with berry production, plant health, disease resistance, etc. I’ll be interested to see if the trends he observed hold up over multiple years.

There were a wide range of other presentations, from medical research on the use of elderberry for improving cognitive functioning and skin conditions to agricultural research on the performance of new cultivars in the field and economic reports on the challenges to American Elderberry in the market (which is presently dominated by European Elderberry imports).

However, I imagine your tolerance for elderberry chit-chat is much lower than mine, so I will end it here for now. :) 


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