Aronia or Black Chokeberry is a perennial, deciduous shrub with a wooden trunk. Its height can reach up to 2 meters, a fact that with the hard and durable trunk makes possible the mechanical harvesting of fruit.
The plant belongs to the family Rosaceae. The plant genus is Aronia and in the climate of Greece has prevailed the Aronia melanocarpa var. melanocarpa, because of better adaptation in the hot Greek summer.
It is a plant, which fruits has huge, global, commercial importance due to its quality and beneficial features.
How do I select the crop...
For the selection of Aronia is necessary and obligatory first to check the suitability of soil and water with which to irrigated farming and of course the study of climatic conditions in the region where the plantation is.
Therefore, the first thing that must be done before starting work in the field is the analysis of the soil. More specifically, you will need to take soil samples from random points of the field (3-5) and two levels of depth (0-30 cm and 30-60 cm). In the end, shuffle the surface samples and take a sample of surface soil and also all the sample depth and take a soil sample from 30-60 cm. The samples must send in soil laboratories that conduct tests for:
- Mechanical texture
- Content of total and active CaCO3
- Organic matter content
Aronia can grow in slightly acidic, neutral or slightly alkaline soils, loamy texture. It is not particularly demanding in nutrients, though adding organic matter increases the strength and productivity of plants. The monitoring of territorial humidity during the summer months is imposed. Develops in areas with sunshine, but shading system should be installed in areas with high temperatures and exposure to solar radiation. It is resistant to cold as it withstands temperatures up to -25 oC.
The second important element is the chilling hours. Plants require cold winters to be able to give fruit big in quantity and quality (just like it does with the fruit trees grown in Greece). Chilling hours of an area can be calculated very easily for the period from 1 November to 28 February with the simple formula below.
- For every hour of the day when the temperature is below 0oC is recorded no chilling hour.
- For every hour of the day that the temperature is 0oC to 2, 5oC is recorded ½ chilling hour.
- For every hour of the day that the temperature is 2, 5oC to 5oC is recorded 1 chilling hour.
- For every hour of the day that the temperature is 5oC to 7oC is recorded ½ chilling hour.
- For every hour of the day that the temperature is above 7oC is recorded no chilling hour.
- For every hour of the day that the temperature is above 15oC is removed 1 chilling hour. (Chilling hours, Texas A&M University Agricultural Research & Extension Center at Overton).
Aronia is estimated that needs at least 300 chilling hours.
Planting, where the soil and climate is suitable for growing of the plant, can be done in autumn or early spring. The tasks for the correct installation of the plantation is:
- Ploughing and incorporation of organic matter and ground improvements (if required).
- Cutting lines planting and planting positions on the lines. Appropriate planting distances (accepted by scientific cooperative group) for the Aronia is:
Distances between rows
Distances between plants (on line)
Number of plants per hectare
The plant of Aronia after a review of the international literature and four years of farming on a large scale shows that:
- It is a plant which has special requirements in water. It can not stand up in conditions of lack of water, while the absence of regular summer irrigation degrades the fruit and reduces production.
- Aronia shows high resistance to natural enemies, therefore organic farming followed without great difficulties.
- Weeding is required with attention to fight weeds around the root of the plant, because it is not allowed to injure the root of the plant. The application of mechanical means for ploughing should be handled with care and away from the superficial root system as the destruction leads to the wilting of the plant.
- Application of preventive measures compatible with organic farming.
- The maturation of the fruit is done in 2-4 weeks. Just measure the sugar content of the fruit and if it is in acceptable levels, the harvest begins by hand or mechanically.
- The plant is allowed to grow as it is for the first 3-4 years. Because develops many offshoots that tend to close planting lines but also the corridors between rows of planting, recommended the removal of a number of offshoots every 4 years, in parallel with the removal of a number of older branches from the inside of the Crown of the plant to facilitate harvest and cultivation, the largest entrance of sunlight, better ventilation of the plant and the renewal of the crown.
Ways of marketing ...
This fruit is imported and marketed either as fresh or as either frozen or as dried in the European market mainly from Bulgaria and Poland. Today the most known form of marketing worldwide is as juice or soft drink (Aronia wine). These products are known because of their great organoleptic characteristics.
It is worth mentioning that organic fruit produced in the EU currently exists in international markets in small quantities.