Hi, I’m Adam Nemitz and this is my wife Sandy. We grow aronia berries and cranberries near a small southern Wisconsin town called Warrens. I’m going to take you on a short picture tour of a typical aronia growing season. Hopefully, this will give you a better understanding of how aronia berries are grown, harvested, and stored.
Around 5 years ago I thought it would be a good idea to diversify what I grew on my farm, so I started to do some research on what my options were for other crops. I’m proud to be a 3rd generation cranberry grower, and my wife is a 7th generation cranberry grower (yes that’s a long time!) so we were looking for something that was just as healthy and good for you as cranberries.
Then I discovered this dark blue/purple berry called aronia. I found that aronia berries are tremendously nutritious and filled with antioxidants, polyphenols, fiber, and so much more. I knew this relatively unknown “super berry” was the healthy new crop I was looking to add to my farming operation.
Aronia berries grow on a bush, with the bushes planted in rows. The width between rows can vary from 6-12 feet depending on space restrictions and how you plan to harvest the berries.
It takes around 3-4 years before aronia bushes start to mature and approach their full potential for berry production. Aronia plants are typically hardy, fast growing plants that grow quite well on their own without too much help from the farmer.
Some fertilizer and water, and most aronia plants will take it from there. Not all aronia plants are grown organically, but even the ones that aren’t certified organic only receive a small amount of inputs.
Depending on where aronia is grown will impact the start of the growing season and when the berries are harvested. Aronia Growers LLC has growers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Illinois. So, the southern most states get a little bit of a head start, but in general the growing season starts in March/April and the berries are harvested in late August and early September.
At the beginning of the growing season, aronia growers pay close attention to the number of buds per plant as this gives them an idea of what they might expect at harvest time. But a lot of things can happen between when the plants bud and when the berries are ready for harvest. Frost, hail, drought, etc. are all things that can impact harvest.
Once mid-summer arrives the berries start to get bigger and you start to get a better idea of harvest volume, but nothing is guaranteed until they are harvested.
Aronia Growers LLC is made up of a group of growers that all operate family farms.
Growing up in farming has taught me so many important life lessons such as respect for the land, the value of hard work, responsibility, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from doing something that makes someone else’s life better. Now my wife Sandy and I are passing those values onto our two young daughters.
Not only do I grow the berries, but I clean them too. After the berries are harvested, they are brought to my cleaning facility where they are thoroughly cleaned. The berries are washed, hand sorted, and optically sorted using specialized, high tech equipment. Optical sorting and hand sorting assure that the product our customers receive is only top quality aronia berries.
Once the aronia berries are cleaned and placed in large bins, they are transported to a local freezer warehouse. Here they are stored at an optimal temperature that ensures the berries maintain their “just harvested” quality.
Aronia Growers LLC harvests and stores close to 1 million pounds of berries so when our customers place an order, whether it is one pallet or several truckloads, we have the product ready for immediate shipment.
Aronia berries are so wonderfully versatile, you can use them in many different types of products, from bakery to snack foods to juices, and so much more.