How to Grow Aronia Berries (Chokeberry), the Superfruit in Superberries

Posted by Scott McKenzie on 11/1/2016 to About the Aroniaberry

Aroniaberry Bush in Field

An Aroniaberry Field in Nebraska

Recently I was asked two questions regarding the growth process of the Aronia Berry Bush. The first question regarded the insects that might thrive on the Aronia Berry Bush. This question inevitably led to the next question which concerned the use of pesticides on the Aronia Berry Bush. I replied that I am by no means a horticulturalist and instead referred the inquiries to the local county extension agent before deciding to do a bit of research on this myself.

The information I found was somewhat enlightening and intriguing to the science geek dwelling within me. The Aronia Berry is a very hardy fruit coming from a very hardy bush. It has a minimal amount of predatory insects that affect crop production if inorganic pesticides aren’t used. In fact, in some agronomy studies it has been shown that inorganic pesticides can actually do more harm to the Aronia Berry than the pests that prey on it.

Aphids are probably the largest threat to the Aronia Berry bush. Aphids are generally an issue throughout the Aronia growing season stretching from mid-May to mid-September. The aphids feed on the tips of the plant and can do some damage to the leaves causing them to brown and curl, but rarely affect overall fruit production. The aphids are generally controlled by natural predators such as ladybird beetles (ladybugs) and lacewings.

Blister beetles feed on the Aronia Berry flower buds about one week prior to the Aronia Bush flower blossom in the month of May. The beetles only remain on the crop for around five days after flowering, but can reduce Aronia yields by up to five percent. The natural predators of the blister beetle are robber flies and the meadowlark, a bird very common in the High Plains area of the United States where the Aronia Bush thrives.

Cherry fruit worms are generally only destructive to Aronia in their larval form. If adult moth activity is noticed in the Aronia Berry fields in May, it is recommended to begin using the organic spray called pyrethrum, which is a derivative of the chrysanthemum. The organic spray generally has little effect on the fruit and the bushes, but can inhibit further damage from the fruit worm. The larvae, if left unchecked, can do widespread damage to the Aronia crop and can reduce yields by a marked percentage.

The Japanese beetle is perhaps the most destructive of the insect predators on Aronia yields. The beetle is generally present from the middle of June to the end of July and can rapidly consume the fruit of the Aronia Berry Bush leaving little left of the crop if unchecked. Natural predators of the Japanese beetle include the meadowlark, pheasant, gulls, geese, ducks and chickens to name a few. The best organic spray known to rid Aronia fields of Japanese Beetles is cedar oil, which has been shown to naturally eliminate infestation of Japanese beetles.

The various studies regarding Aronia Berry bushes, pests and insecticides are a real eye opener. While not many pests feed on the bush or the fruit, those that do can be controlled by natural predators and organic insecticides to ensure the integrity and high yield of the fruit. The more research I do on the Aronia Berry the more impressive this berry becomes. Truly, this is perhaps one of the most marvelous more self-reliant and low maintenance berries in the world.