General description: The Smokey saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia ’Smoky’), also commonly called the serviceberry, is a perennial shrub that reaches 4 m in height. It has very sweet-tasting fruit and is a prolific variety resistant to frost and diseases. It was introduced to cultivation in Canada in 1952. Smokey is extremely desirable thanks to the taste of its fruit and their nutritional properties. The shrub is undemanding and very low maintenance. It doesn’t like being too dry, so sometimes must be watered. Smokey is a shrub with a loose habit.
Flowers: Come spring, Smokey’s inflorescences develop earlier than its leaves. Its flowers withstand frosts of down to -7°C but as they always bloom a few days earlier than other saskatoon's, Smokey may be more susceptible to flower damage in case of harsh late spring frosts. Flowers bloom abundantly and are very decorative, white with a pinkish tint, and are gathered in pendulous inflorescences.
Blooming: Smokey blooms in early spring, at the turn of April and May.
Leaves: Saskatoon are deciduous, dropping leaves for the winter and growing new foliage in spring. Fresh leaves have entire (smooth) margins, and older leaves develop very delicately serrated edges, usually in the top part of the leaf. They grow to around 2-5 cm long, and 2-4 cm wide.
Fruit: Saskatoons bear medium to large seized, spherical fruit (pomes) up to 15 mm in diameter. They are bluish black, develop a lighter-coloured waxy bloom, and grow gathered in dense clusters of 7-11 pomes. The clusters develop unevenly, some ripening quicker than others. The fruit are very sweet, with a high sugar to acid ratio, and are very aromatic. They suitable for making jams, jellies and other preserves.
Ripening: Smokey bears fruit near the end of June and in July. Even fully ripe fruit are strongly attached to petioles, which are in turn firmly attached to stems (they do not fall off during strong winds). Some fruit may appear just a year after planting. Fruit can be harvested in the third year after planting, however in the fourth year after planting, a yield of up to 0.5 kg from one shrub can be expected from well-developed plants (1.2-1.5 m tall).
Cultivation requirements: This saskatoon grows well and bears fruit in both fertile and poorer soils. It’s an undemanding shrub to grow. Near neutral slightly acidic or slightly alkaline soils (from pH 6.2 to pH 7.5) are ideal. Smokey prefers sunny locations - a well sunlit spot will guarantee a high yield and appropriate quality of fruit. Fruit that ripen in the sun have a better taste.
Care: Judy does not require special care, however it has to be watered regularly, especially in the summer. On hot days, watering early in the morning or in the evening is recommended, whilst taking care to avoid wetting leaves as this may cause burn marks.
Pruning: There is no need to prune saskatoon shrubs during the first 4 years after planting. The first thinning out to remove old shoots can be conducted after this time (depending on whether the shrub needs this). Thanks to such pruning, fresh shoots will gain access to more light and we gain the possibility of shaping the shrub to our liking. Pruning can be done before flowering or after fruit is harvested.
Overwintering: This cultivar is highly frost resistant. The shrub withstands temperatures of down to - 30°C, and its flowers can tolerate -7°C. At the beginning of November, cover young seedlings by piling a mound of soil with peat about 30 cm in height over the plant, or shield them with agrotextiles for the winter.
Limitations: Limitations! Limitations! Due to phytosanitary regulations, this seedling cannot be shipped to Estonia, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Finland, Lithuania, Ireland, UK, Slovenia and Slovakia.