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The ManyTracks Orchard


aka Saskatoon, Serviceberry


Amelanchier alnifolia -- native northwestern North America
A. arborea -- native northeastern North America



Four decades of Growing Good Food in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Down to Earth Information, Experiences, Thought

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Cornelian Dogwood






native arborea


We are fortunate to have many native wild Juneberries, A. arborea (and likely hybrids), small seedlings to medium sized trees. They are the first to blossom, very welcome in the spring, birds love the fruit and I often snack on a few during the season. But the fruit is usually rather sparse and spread out over the tree (which can be beyond my reach) and sporadic ripening during the season so not very practical for harvest. So I decided to get some named Juneberries for my own use as well as a nice addition to the orchard. These are mostly selections from the western native juneberry/saskatoon A. alnafolia.

2022Thiesen on MtnAsh is doing poorly. Keeping the MtnAsh. branches pruned to not overwhelm Thiesen but I don't think it likes this arrangement much. In winter I'll cut a piece to again try grafting to a juneberry sapling.
     Honeywood on the medium native sapling is doing fine. Cut back vigorous rootstock branches several times during summer.
     Honeywood and Northline on medium large tree growing fine. Next year I'll cut out top of tree down to the grafted branches.
     Regent - cut off two old stems, letting suckers grow as long as they don't interfere with nearby Hazelbert.

2021 -  Late winter I cut scions from the MtnAsh grafted Thiessen and the native tree grafted Honeywood (Northline wasn't large enough to cut a scion). 5/8 grafted Thiessen scion to a small native sapling by north fence, and Honeywood to a SC medium sapling. Honeywood took and grew fine; Thiessen didn't.

2020 - Juneberry scions aren't readily available like apple and pear are so I searched the varieties and order four from the USDA National Plant Germplasm System in Corvallis, OR. Juneberries break bud and leaf early so I wasn't too surprised (though rather concerned) that when the scions arrived in early March they had buds swelling already (scions graft best when fully dormant). It was still winter here and too early to graft so I put them in the root cellar with other scions.

4/24 dug up four Regent suckers to root graft inside on bench, wrapping with parafilm and "planting" temporarily in pail of potting soil mix. Set by chimney for two weeks. Then in root cellar until weather warmed. Green buds on most. 5/13 planted out in orchard, burying grafts up to one or two buds. None of them grew.

5/2 outside juneberry leaves were popping so we grafted:
     --All varieties (Northline, Honeywood, Thiessen, and Prince William) on many branches on a well branched medium size sapling. Buds broke but later died on all.
     --Thiessen grafted on the planted SCD seedling. Took and grew fine. HOWEVER, In July I realized, belatedly, that the "juneberries" from the SCD were not -- they were American Mountain Ash! So Thiessen is grafted to an AMA. Well, this will be interesting. It is growing fine, though the rootstock is vigorous as well and will need to be kept pruned back. Will cut a scion to graft to a "real" juneberry next spring.
     --Grafted a leftover Honeywood and Northline onto low branches of a mid size native tree growing in the "wild" area in the east orchard section. Both took and grew, Honeywood the most vigorous.

2019 - I decided to get some scions of named varieties with better reputations than Regent and graft to our wild juneberries. Since I couldn't identify small enough plants in the very mixed vegetation of our woods I ordered ten from our local Soil Conservation District, wanting them also for a new mixed windbreak I was planting outside the NE corner of the orchard fence. I had found a few young wild juneberries inside the fenceI could graft to and I planted one of the new SCD ones, too, to graft onto next spring.

2013 - 2018 -- My first planted juneberries were two small "Regent" purchased from Fedco, a hardy open pollinated seedling originating in North Dakota, introduced in 1997. A smaller bush than many, 4-5 ft, they settled in nicely and had some fruit in 2014.

It continued doing OK, not exactly vigorously thriving but OK. Fruit was also just OK, never even a moderate crop, and I found our wild juneberries to have better flavor. It suckered but I tried to keep it to one stem so I could protect with hardware cloth in winter (voles). Maybe it would have been better as a small hedge, but I just let it do what it will and leave the fruit for the birds.

Cultivar Information:

Honeywood - Canadian selection, A. alnifolia, blooms later, larger fruit, tangy, low suckering.

Northline - A. alnifolia, introduced 1960. Most reliable to come true from seed. Berries slightly pear-shaped, full-flavored, good sweet/tart balance. Prevocious bearing, vigorous plant. Suckers freely.

Thiessen - A. alnifolia, Saskachewan introduction 1976. Big, juicy, mild tasty fruit. Early flowering. Sprawling growth habit, 12-14 ft tall, moderate suckering.

Regent - A. alnifolia, Faribault, Minn. introduction 1997. Small bush, 4-6 ft. Not best flavored fruit. Good wildlife planting.

Copyright Susan Robishaw


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Have you read  "Frost Dancing - Tips from a Northern Gardener" ? A fun short read.

or "Homesteading Adventures"    Creating our backwoods homestead--the first 20 years.

and "Growing Berries for Food and Fun"   A journey you can use in your own garden.