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NDSU Searching for Superior Juneberry Plants

NDSU plant researchers are looking for Juneberry plants that can be developed into commercial varieties. NDSU plant researchers are looking for Juneberry plants that can be developed into commercial varieties.
NDSU plant researchers are looking for the public's help in locating Juneberry plants that could be developed into commercial varieties.

If you know about a Juneberry plant that has the potential to become a commercial variety, North Dakota State University wants to hear from you.

NDSU plant researchers are looking for plants that consistently produce abundant amounts of good-tasting fruit or have other high-quality characteristics, such as resistance to insects and diseases, or good plant shape.

Perhaps you have such a plant somewhere on your property. Or maybe you know of one growing wild or in a windbreak. As long as it's not a named variety, it could become a candidate for release.

Don't worry that hordes of Juneberry pickers are going to descend on the plant. The researchers will keep the plant's location confidential.

If the plant you identify to researchers is developed into a commercial variety, you'll be able to help name the variety. You'll also receive a reward. Some of the possibilities are cash, a percentage of the royalties from sales of the variety or some plants of the new variety.

Researchers are hoping to develop new varieties because Juneberry production is a small but growing industry in North Dakota, according to Joe Zeleznik, NDSU Extension Service forester and one of three NDSU plant experts involved in the project. Juneberries are popular because they can be made into jams, jellies, syrup, pies and even ice cream flavoring.

Most of the commercial varieties available come from Canada. Importing them requires a lot of paperwork and buying them costs $3 to $5 per plant, Zeleznik says.

"If you buy a hundred or more to establish an orchard, it's expensive," he adds. "And you'd need more than 100 for an orchard."

Researchers plan to locate plants in May and June. In July, Jim Walla, a research associate in NDSU's Plant Pathology Department, will go to the sites and evaluate them. He'll make sure they aren't already a cultivated variety, or cultivar, and that they have the high-quality characteristics for a new variety. Following that, the researchers will decide which ones to test further.

In the fall, Harlene Hatterman-Valenti, an associate professor in NDSU's Plant Sciences Department who specializes in high-value crop production, will propagate the chosen plants and plant them in a common test plot next spring. Developing a new cultivar generally takes at least 10 years because just getting it to the fruit-bearing stage takes three years, she says.

About 10 to 15 named Juneberry cultivars are available. The potential for developing new cultivars from among all the plants growing in North Dakota is endless, Zeleznik says.

"We're looking at the natural variability, and we're trying to identify the best ones out there," he says.

To report a plant or plants, contact Hatterman-Valenti at (701) 231-8536 or, Walla at (701) 231-7069 or or Zeleznik at (701) 231-8143 or

Agriculture Communication

Source:Joe Zeleznik, (701) 231-8143,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391,
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