President’s Note: Elderberries

president's note elderberries

I just returned from a three-day meeting in Columbia, Missouri, on elderberries. The first day was presentations covering a four-year grant the Kerr Center is part of.

We have a genetics x environment trial at the Kerr Center Horticulture Farm. Twelve varieties are part of the study.

One issue we are challenged with at our location is eriophyid mites. The mites cause leaf curling and can damage blossoms. We are struggling with a heavy infestation.

Some varieties seem to be doing better than other varieties. Identifying such traits is the purpose of a research trial. This will be monitored over the four years of the trial to see if those with apparent resistance to mites maintain the resistance.

The following two-day conference was focused on growers. Growers from northern locations such as Canada presented about their unique challenges in a short season climate. There were presentations on the blue elderberry native to the western United States.

Many presentations covered value added products growers have developed. Some had their products for sale at the meeting. Included are elderberry juice, elderberry infused honey, freeze and air-dried berries, drinks infused with flowers, jelly, teas, salves, etc. Since growers need to develop their own value-added products, food safety was also covered.

It will be interesting to see what is learned on the research grant over the remaining three years of the grant. Growers are willing to share their information, and show tremendous innovation in product development.

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