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Harvesting Honeyberry Plants

Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit and how to store your harvest.

NOTE: This is part 11 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow honeyberry plants, we recommend starting from the beginning.

Most honeyberry plants reach fruiting maturity and begin to bear fruit starting in their second year after planting. Each following year, you may notice the fruit yield increases and, by their fifth year, they’ll produce quite a bounty for you to harvest! Honeyberries are ready to harvest around the same time June-bearing strawberries start to ripen, if not a week or so sooner.

How to Harvest Honeyberries

Honeyberries, much like blueberries, can be easily plucked from the plant when ripe. Honeyberries are usually ripe early in the season, around late may and into June. Avoid squeezing the ripe fruit, as it may be soft and even juicy at harvest time. Honeyberries may be “cherry-picked” individually or they may also be shaken from the plant to harvest several at once. The ripe fruit will come loose and fall to the ground if the plant is carefully shaken, so place a tarp or other means of catching the fruit that falls prior to shaking the honeyberries loose. Birds will also be watching your honeyberry plants for their fruit to ripen, so, as you notice the berries turn color from green to pinkish-purple and varying shades of indigo, you may want to consider covering the plants with garden netting to prevent birds and other garden critters from getting to your ripe fruit first.

Depending on the variety, location, pollination, and care – average yield per plant is 1/2 to 2 lbs (and upwards of 4 lbs) of honeyberries. Initial crops may be smaller, but, as plants continue to mature (2 to 4 years on average), fruit yields will increase.

While there are many ways to pick the fruit from your honeyberry plants, try to avoid harvesting any honeyberries that are not fully ripe. They are not harmful to eat underripe, but they are quite tart! You can tell by the color of the fruit if it still needs time to ripen, as it will retain some of its green or lighter, pinkish tones.

Storing Honeyberries

To prolong your enjoyment of your honeyberry harvest, you may choose to store the fruit for future use. Honeyberries will keep up a few days, up to a week, in your refrigerator. If you don’t plan to use your honeyberry harvest right away, place the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Then put them in labeled and dated freezer bags to enjoy all year long. Frozen honeyberries keep up to a year in proper storage.

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