General description: Northline is a saskatoon variety that bears very large fruit abundantly, for up to 50 years. Their taste is excellent - intense and sweet. It’s a vigorously growing shrub with a compact and tall habit that reaches up to 4 m in height. Northline is one of the most cultivated varieties in Canada, especially for combine harvesting. It was developed by J. A. Wallace at the Beaverlodge Nursery (Alberta) in 1958 and introduced to cultivation in 1976. It’s also recommended for amateur cultivation.
Flowers: Come spring, Northline’s inflorescences develop earlier than its leaves and withstand frosts of down to -7°C. Its flowers bloom abundantly and are very decorative, white with a pinkish tint, and grow gathered in pendulous inflorescences. Northline blooms earlier than other saskatoon cultivars, so its flowers may be more susceptible to damage in case of harsh late spring frosts.
Blooming: Northline flowers in early spring, beginning in the second half of April, attaining to full bloom at the end April or at the beginning of May. It produces bisexual flowers, that is with both female (pistils) and male (stamens with anthers) reproductive parts. This shrub attracts bees, butterflies and birds.
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. In autumn they change colour to a spectacular orange red.
Fruit: Northline bears very large, spherical fruit (pomes) around 16 mm in diameter. They are bluish black, covered with a lighter-coloured waxy bloom, and look quite similar to blackcurrants or chokeberries. Their flesh is soft and juicy, resembling blueberries in taste with a delicate almond aftertaste. Northline fruit are excellent for eating raw. They ripen in June/July.
Cultivation requirements: This saskatoon prefers sunny locations. Adequate sunlight guarantees a high yield and good quality fruit, because fruit that ripen in the sun have a better taste. Northline grows and fruits well in both fertile and poor soils. It’s an undemanding shrub, easy to cultivate, although it is sensitive to salinity and lack of soil moisture in the first few years after planting. The soil should be slightly acidic to slightly alkaline (pH 6.2 to pH 7.5).
Pruning: Seedlings obtained from root cuttings should be trimmed by 1/3 of their length right after planting to maintain balance between the plant’s root system and the shoots above ground. Such seedlings will grow very little in the first year, but they will develop their root system, and in the following years they’ll produce lots of new shoots with many leaves. The first pruning cut should be done after 5 years from planting (in this period the saskatoons reach full fruiting). Old, damaged, broken, and excessively thick stems should be removed, and this procedure repeated annually to maintain a balance between the growth of the shrub and proper fruiting.
Overwintering: Northline is resistant to frost and withstands temperature drops of down to -30°C. It’s recommended to cover young seedlings for the winter, for example by piling a mound of bark over the plant.
Limitations: Due to phytosanitary regulations, this seedling cannot be shipped to Estonia, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Finland, Lithuania, Ireland, UK, Slovenia and Slovakia.