Flower production and effect of flower harvest on berry yields within six American elderberry genotypes

K.G. McGowan, P.L. Byers, S. Jose, M. Gold, A.L. Thomas
American elderberry (Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis) is being increasingly cultivated in North America for its use in dietary supplements. While the flowers of European elderberry (subsp. nigra) are commonly consumed as an anti-viral in Europe, the horticultural production of American elderberry flowers is nascent. A large field experiment with American elderberry was established in 2015 in southwest Missouri, USA to evaluate flower production and to determine the impact of a partial flower harvest on fruit yield and quality, and plant morphology. The study concurrently compared four promising new genotypes to two established cultivars. In 2017, 96 randomized plots with six genotypes were assigned treatments of 0, 20, 30, and 100% flower harvest, with four replicated plots per genotype/treatment. Flower and fruit production data, pest and disease incidence, phenology, plant growth response, and fruit quality data were determined. The six genotypes showed differences in flower cyme number, total flower dry matter produced, mean cyme size, budbreak, fruit ripening date, fruit yields, berry size, and plant height. The experimental genotypes ‘Pocahontas’ and ‘Rogersville’ showed promise in terms of flower and fruit productivity, and produced taller plants compared with the standard cultivars ‘Bob Gordon’ and ‘Wyldewood’. While total fruit yields were correspondingly reduced in plots that received 0, 20, and 30% flower cyme harvests (3.6, 3.0, and 2.9 kg fruit plot-1, respectively), these differences were not statistically significant. Likewise, mean fruiting cyme weight, berry size, soluble solids in fruit, and plant height were not affected by the various flower cyme harvest treatments. While these results are preliminary, up to 30% harvest of flower cymes did not significantly reduce elderberry fruit yields, but neither did it improve berry size or fruit quality as might have been expected.
McGowan, K.G., Byers, P.L., Jose, S., Gold, M. and Thomas, A.L. (2019). Flower production and effect of flower harvest on berry yields within six American elderberry genotypes. Acta Hortic. 1265, 99-106
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1265.14
Sambucus, fruit, dietary supplement, elderflower

Acta Horticulturae