Difficulty
  honeyberries require minimal effort to manage... if you don't consider the birds.
∙ disease resistant varieties
∙ moderately wet climate
Bloom
  honeyberries bloom quite early, but they produce very hardy flowers that can survive in some of the most unstable climates. L. kamtschatica blooms the earliest and should only be grown in the north. L. emphyllocalyx blooms late, in comparison. Kuril-type bloom slightly later.
Ripens
  honeyberries are one of the first fruit to ripen (similar time as strawberries)
Pollination
  self-sterile, sibling incompatibility
pH
  5 to 7 (preferred), 4.5 to 8 (acceptable), up to 8.5 (tolerable)

Native Range and Climate



Japanese honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea var emphyllocalyx) are native to Hokkaido (northern Japan) and the Kuril islands.  Rainfall varies between 2" to 6" per month during the grow season.  The average peak temperature of the year is ~79F (26.1C) on most of Hokkaido, but it can be as low as 60F (15.6C) on the Kuril islands.  'Haskap' is a term used to specifically refer to the Japanese honeyberry.[1]

Russian honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea var kamtschatica) are native to Kamchatka and other nearby federal subjects of Russia.  Rainfall varies between 1" to 3.5" per month during the grow season.  The average peak temperature of the year resides between 63F (17.2C) to 73F (22.8C). 

Honeyberry flowers can survive temperatures between 17F (-8.3C)[1] and 19F (-7.2C).  Early blooming varieties (e.g.  kamtschatica) cannot be grown in regions that regularly experience above freezing temperatures for roughly a week or more during the winter.  That is warm enough to wake them up from dormancy.


Pests



There does not appear to be any significant pests other than birds in the United States.  There is a stem borer that can kill branches, but there is very little information about it.  I believe it is the species Oberea pupillata, which is native to Europe.  I have seen no mention of it in the United States.  There are other longhorned beetle species native to the US, but I do not know of any that feed on honeyberry or other honeysuckle plants.  There is, however, a very brief report of honeyberry borers in Ontario, Canada by their ministry of agriculture.


Disease



Powdery mildew is the most common disease to affect honeyberries, but sunburn can also be a problem[2].  Mildew may exacerbate the problem by causing the leaves to curl, thus exposing their sensitive underside to the sun[2].  Since honeyberries are one of the first fruit to ripen, the worst of it usually happens after harvest.

Mildew and sunburn has been observed, to varying degrees, in the cold summer, semi-arid climate (BSk) of Saskatoon, Canada[2] at an elevation of ~1500ft.  In Ohio, where it's warmer and humid – but at a much lower elevation – varieties that demonstrated a high level of resistance in Saskatoon were troubled by both afflictions,[2] but it does not mention which were tested.  This is important since Russian varieties are known for being more susceptible than Japanese varieties, and Japanese varieties developed in the United States are said to have additional resistance.

In Lexington, Kentucky, 6 plots were planted with 10 different Japanese honeyberry (haskap) selections, in addition to the hybrid variety 'Borealis', during the spring of 2014.  From 2016 to 2018, data was recorded.[3][4][5] During this time, mildew was not present, and "leaf bronzing" was implied to be low for many.  Unfortunately, most selections had a fairly high mortality rate by the end of the 5th year, and every dead bush was diagnosed with phytophthora root rot.  However, there were two selections with few or no deaths (one death was reported in 2017, but it was apparently retracted in 2018).  They were released under the names of 'Sunrise' and 'Early Blue'.[5]


Fruit Maturity



Honeyberries may turn blue and look ripe 2-3 weeks before they are ready to harvest.[1] Some varieties will turn dark purple inside when they are fully ripe, while others will remain green.  Mature berries can hang on the bush for 1 to 2 months in cool summer climates before they become overripe.  Smaller berries may dehydrate before then.


Flavor



Plants within the genus Lonicera are referred to as honeysuckle, where the name 'honeyberry' is derived.  It also doubles as a highly convenient gimmick to sell product that struggles to develop even a smidge of sweetness, that is, when it comes to every variety that was available back when the name was coined a few decades ago.  Intriguingly, some of these varieties still happen to be described by major nurseries as "sweet".  Sometimes, they even completely avoid any reference to their consistently high level of acidity.  Other times, they'll add cute words like "tangy".  However, some of the newer varieties, such as 'Aurora', have an easier time developing sweetness and flavor to help balance their tart nature.

Honeyberries can have a fairly complex flavor consisting of tones reminiscent of other berries – such as strawberry, blueberry, or raspberry – that complement their own, unique flavor.  Conversely, some varieties, particularly when it comes to those released before 2014, will regularly produce berries that develop a weak flavor that is easily overwhelmed by their acidity and, in some cases, bitterness or astringency.


Nutritional Values



Honeyberries provide a moderate to high amount of ascorbic acid, ranging from roughly 10 to 100 mg/100g.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] However, a measurement between 20 to 35 mg/100g appeared to be quite common.  The first honeyberries harvested from the bush will have more ascorbic acid than those that are harvested later in the season.[6][8][12]

The total phenolic content of honeyberries ranged between 125 to 1154 GAE mg/100g FW, with the mean low and high being 359 and 620 mg/100g.[14][6][15][8][16][17][10][11][12] Anthocyanins generally consisted of roughly 10-40% of the amount.  For context, other fruit often have a phenolic content in the lower range, while the content of the most phenolic-rich species appear to regularly be over 1000 mg/100g FW.

In colder climates, citric acid is the primary acid in multiple culinary berries.  This is often true for honeyberries, but malic acid can occasionally be the most dominate.[17] Regardless, honeyberries regularly have a citric acid content rivaling that of citrus.  Overall, their acid content is often measured between 1 to 4 g/100g FW.[6][7][8][9][17][18][13].

Their total sugar content generally ranged between 1.56 to 9.5 g/100g FW.[9][17][12][13] In the study that tested 17 selections, the mean was 6.15 g/100g.[9] Brix levels were not given in these studies.  Elsewhere, brix ranged between 9.3 to 19.9, but the majority were below 15.[6][7][8][18][19]

In one study, the variety 'Indigo Treat' was found to have a sugar content of 13.8 g/100g FW and a brix of 16.4 in 2015.[19] This is a very high amount of sugar for a honeyberry, and it's from a variety that is currently known for being inferior to Aurora.  However, the results were much lower during the other two years it was tested.  In 2014, Indigo Treat had a sugar content of 5.9g (14.3 brix), and in 2016, it was 5.6g (11.3 brix).[19]

There were six other varieties that were tested in this study, and in 2015, they had a spike in sugar as well.  'Indigo Gem' had the second highest amount in 2015 (11.3g with a brix of 16.1), but it had the highest amount in 2014 (10.3g with a brix of 18.3) and 2016 (6.1g with a brix of 11.5).[19] 'Tundra' was also tested.  It had a sugar content of 3.9g (11.5 brix) in 2014, 6.2g (11.7 brix) in 2015, and 3.9g (9.8 brix) in 2016.[19]

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6. Yield and Chemical Composition of Blue Honeysuckle Fruit Depending on Ripening Time, .
7.
8.
9.
10. Blue honeysuckle fruit (Lonicera caerulea L.) from eastern Russia: phenolic composition, nutritional value and biological activities of its polar extracts, .
11. Blue honeysuckle (Lonicera cearulea L. subs. edulis) berry; A rich source of some nutrients and their differences among four different cultivars, .
12. Blue honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea subsp. edulis (Turcz. ex Herder) Hulten.) berries and changes in their ingredients across different locations, .
13.
14. Preliminary Observations on Adaptation and Nutraceutical Values of Blue Honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea ) in Oregon, USA, .
15.
16.
17.
18. Performance of five haskap (Lonicera caerulea L.) cultivars and the effect of hexanal on postharvest quality, .
19. Bioactive compounds and antioxidant capacity of Lonicera caerulea berries: Comparison of seven cultivars over three harvesting years, .




Read More

Honeyberry: Lonicera spp

Aurora

🔍
Solovey (Russian) x MT46.55 (Japanese).  Released in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (2012).
Zone
• 1
Flowers
• partially self-fertile
Blooms
💮
• early-mid
Ripens
💙
• mid
Growth
• 5.5ft W x 5.5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart
• medium-large size
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to powdery mildew.

Aurora appears to be, by far, the sweetest and most liked out of the older honeyberry varieties available in North America.  Some of the newer varieties released in the mid to late 2010's, such as those from the Boreal series, should be quite good as well.

Boreal Beast

🔍
(Kiev #7 (Kuril) x Tomichka (Russian)) x MT46.55 (Japanese).  Selected in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (2015).
Zone
• 2
Blooms
💮
• mid-late     ◦ may start with Boreal Blizzard but ends 0.5 to 1 week later
Ripens
💙
• mid-late     ◦ 0.5 to 1 week after Boreal Blizzard
Fruit
• sweet-tart
• medium-large size
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to powdery mildew.

Boreal Beauty

🔍
37.5% Japanese, 37.5% Russian, 25% Kuril.  Selected in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (2014).
Zone
• 2
Blooms
💮
• late (mid-late)
Ripens
💙
• late (very late)
Growth
• 5ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart?
• large-size
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to powdery mildew and sunburn.

Boreal Blizzard

🔍
Japanese x Russian, closely related to Aurora (implying same parentage).  Selected in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (2014).
Zone
• 2
Blooms
💮
• mid-late
Ripens
💙
• mid-late
Growth
• 5ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart
• large-size
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to powdery mildew and sunburn.

Borealis

🔍
Kiev #8 (Kuril) x Tomichka (Russian).  Released in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (2007).
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early-mid
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Growth
• 6ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• tart
• medium-size
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to sunburn.
Somewhat susceptible to powdery mildew.

Early Blue

🔍
named around 2018?
Alias
• 51-02
Blooms
💮
• early-mid
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Yield
• moderately-low — for at least the first few years of production
Afflictions
• Resistant to mildew and sunburn.

Early Blue is implied to be from the emphyllocalyx species, which blooms late, but it bloomed along with the hybrid 'Borealis' in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Early Blue produced an average of 18.1 ounces per plant after 5 years in Lexington, Kentucky, making it the fourth least productive of the 11 genotypes tested (mean = 24.2 ounces).

Honey Bee

🔍
Suvenir (Russian) x Blue Pacific (Kuril).  Released in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (2011).
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early-mid
Ripens
💙
• mid
• precocious
Growth
• 6ft H
Fruit
• tart with a hint of bitterness or astringency
• medium-large size
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to powdery mildew.

Honey Bee was selected to be a pollinator for Tundra, Borealis, and the 3 members of the Indigo series because those 5 are closely related (have the same parentage) and struggle to pollinate each other. 

The fruit has a habit of hanging on to the stem when harvested.

Indigo Gem

🔍
Kiev #8 (Kuril) x Tomichka (Russian).  Released in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (2007).
Zone
• 1
Flowers
• partially self-fertile
Blooms
💮
• early-mid
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Growth
• 5 to 6ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart/tart
• medium-small size
Afflictions
• Susceptible to powdery mildew.  Highly susceptible to sunburn.

Indigo Treat

🔍
Kiev #8 (Kuril) x Tomichka (Russian).  Released in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (2007).
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early-mid
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Growth
• 5ft H
Fruit
• tart
• medium size
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to powdery mildew and sunburn.

Indigo Yum

🔍
Kiev #8 (Kuril) x Tomichka (Russian).  Released in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (2007).
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early-mid
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Fruit
• medium-small size
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to powdery mildew.
Somewhat susceptible to sunburn.

Indigo Yum is harder to find because it's difficult to propagate.

Strawberry Sensation

🔍
F3 Lonicera caerulea var emphyllocalyx
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late (very late)
Growth
• 5ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart/tart?

Strawberry Sensation is named after its supposed alpine strawberry aftertaste.  While I generally don't trust these kind of claims, I have occasionally tasted a good amount of strawberry from an unknown variety, so it's quite possible.  Additionally, I have seen one home-grower confirm the strawberry flavor, but it was also quite bitter.  More testing is certainly needed.

Sunrise

🔍
named around 2018?
Alias
• 29-55
Blooms
💮
• early-mid     ◦ Implied to be emphyllocalyx, but bloomed along with the hybrid 'Borealis' in Lexington, Kentucky.
Ripens
💙
• early-mid     ◦ after Borealis
Growth
• dwarf
Yield
• low — for at least the first few years of production
Afflictions
• Resistant to mildew and sunburn.

Sunrise was the sweetest selection tested during a 5 year trial in Lexington, Kentucky.  It also had the lowest amount of acid on the one year it was tested.  Furthermore, it consistently ranked among the top for flavor, but it was not compared with any of the best honeyberry varieties, such as Aurora, so you should take this with a grain of salt. 

Sunrise produced an average of 13.6 ounces per plant during the fifth year, making it the second least productive of the 11 genotypes tested (mean = 24.2 ounces).  Low productivity was also observed during the previous 2 years.

Tundra

🔍
Kiev #8 (Kuril) x Tomichka (Russian).  Released in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (2007).
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early-mid
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Growth
• 6ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• tart
• medium-size
Afflictions
• Somewhat resistant to powdery mildew.
Somewhat susceptible to sunburn.

Vostorg

🔍
Blooms
💮
• mid
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Fruit
• sweet-tart

Vostorg did as well as Aurora in a foreign taste test, but it may have a bit more acidity.

Japanese Honeyberry: Lonicera caerulea var emphyllocalyx

Blue Treasure

🔍
F3 Lonicera caerulea var emphyllocalyx
Zone
• 2 (3a)
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late (very late)
Growth
• 5ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart?

Giant's Heart

🔍
F3 Lonicera caerulea var emphyllocalyx
Zone
• 2 (3a)
Blooms
💮
• mid-late
Ripens
💙
• mid-late
Growth
• 5ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart?

Keiko

🔍
Zone
• 3a (2)
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late
Growth
• 6ft W x 6ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart?

Tana

🔍
Zone
• 3a (2)
Blooms
💮
• mid-late (late)
Ripens
💙
• mid-late (late)
Fruit
• sweet-tart?

Yezberry Honey Bunch

🔍
Zone
• 3a (2)
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late
Growth
• 5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart?

Yezberry Maxie

🔍
Zone
• 3a (2)
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late
Growth
• 6ft H
Fruit
• tart but with good flavor
• medium-large size

Yezberry Maxie produces the largest berries within the Yezberry series.  While no details were given, the largest I measured from a small crop was 2.2 grams.

Yezberry Solo

🔍
Zone
• 3a (2)
Flowers
• partially self-fertile
Blooms
💮
• mid-late
Ripens
💙
• mid-late (late)
Growth
• 6ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart/tart?

Yezberry Sugar Pie

🔍
Zone
• 3a (2)
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late?
Growth
• 3-4ft H dwarf
Fruit
• sweet-tart/tart?

Sugar Pie produces the smallest bush within the Yezberry series.  It is one of the smaller bushes outside of the series as well.

Russian Honeyberry: Lonicera caerulea var kamtschatica

Berry Blue

🔍
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early
Ripens
💙
• early
Growth
• 8ft H
Fruit
• tart, astringent
• small-size
Afflictions
• Susceptible to sunburn and powdery mildew.

Cinderella

🔍
Developed in Siberia
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early
Ripens
💙
• early
Growth
• 5ft H
Fruit
• tart
• medium-size
Afflictions
• Susceptible to powdery mildew.

Doc's Velikana

🔍
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Fruit
• sweet-tart?

Sugar Mountain Blue

🔍
Developed in the Czech Republic
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early
Ripens
💙
• early
Growth
• 6ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart?
Afflictions
• Susceptible to powdery mildew.

Wojtek

🔍
Developed in Poland?
Alias
• Larisa
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Growth
• 5ft W x 6ft H
Fruit
• tart

Zojka

🔍
Developed in Poland?
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Growth
• 6ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart/sweet?

Turzcaninowii Honeyberry: Lonicera caerulea var Turzcaninowii

Blue Banana

🔍
F4 Lonicera caerulea var Turzcaninowii
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early-mid
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Growth
• 5ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart/sweet?

Blue Dessert

🔍
F4 Lonicera caerulea var Turzcaninowii
Alias
• Blue Angus
Blooms
💮
• early-mid
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Growth
• 5ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart?

Blue Moose

🔍
F3 Lonicera caerulea var Turzcaninowii
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early?
Ripens
💙
• early
Growth
• 5ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart?

Blue Palm

🔍
F3 Lonicera caerulea var Turzcaninowii
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early-mid?
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Growth
• 5ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• tart

Happy Giant

🔍
F3 Lonicera caerulea var Turzcaninowii
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early
Ripens
💙
• early
Growth
• 5ft W x 6ft H
Fruit
• tart

Honey Delight

🔍
F3 Lonicera caerulea var Turzcaninowii
Zone
• 1
Blooms
💮
• early
Ripens
💙
• early
Fruit
• sweet-tart?

Honey Gin

🔍
F4 Lonicera caerulea var Turzcaninowii
Blooms
💮
• early-mid?
Ripens
💙
• early-mid
Growth
• 4ft W x 5ft H
Fruit
• sweet-tart/sweet?

Kuril Honeyberry: Lonicera caerulea var ?

Blue Hokkaido

🔍
Zone
• 2
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late?
Growth
• 5ft H
Fruit
• tart?

Blue Moon

🔍
Zone
• 2
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late?
Growth
• 5ft H
Fruit
• tart, lacks flavor

Blue Pagoda

🔍
Zone
• 2
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late?
Growth
• 5ft H
Fruit
• tart?

Blue Sea

🔍
Zone
• 2
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late?
Growth
• dwarf
Fruit
• tart?

Blue Sea supposedly grows into a small bush, but no height is given.

Blue Velvet

🔍
Zone
• 2
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late?
Growth
• 6ft W x 4ft H dwarf
Fruit
• tart, lacks flavor
• medium-small size
Afflictions
• Somewhat susceptible to sunburn.  Susceptible to powdery mildew.

Kamchatka

🔍
Zone
• 2
Blooms
💮
• late
Ripens
💙
• late?
Growth
• 6ft H
Fruit
• tart
Afflictions
• Somewhat susceptible to sunburn and powdery mildew.