What is aronia?
The species of aronia we grow is called black chockeberries (Aronia melanocarpa). They are 1-2m high bushes with shiny darkgrean leaves; in autumn the leaves turn a bold red color. The flowers are white or pale pink with glabrous sepals. That makes them attractive ornamental plants for gardens. The fruit is black, not persisting into winter. It looks like minature black apple, which hide some small seeds in them.
In Bulgaria, they mellow in the middle of august. Grown in the mountainous and hilly but still small areas. Resistant to low temperatures and pests and demanding only to humid soil and sunshine, this unpretentious, beautiful and very curative plant is a great reception in our country.
Aronia is native to North America. In Europe, the culture was first introduced in Germany. Later it reaches the inner part of the continent, where in the early 30s of last century was produced industrially in the USSR (Altai region, which currently has over 6,000 ha), and later in Russia, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Canada, USA, Denmark, Sweden and others.
In our country the first studies of culture in order to clarify the ability to be grown in Bulgaria started in the 60s. In the late 70s of last century were created the first state orchards from chokeberry in almost all regional cities. Engines of this process became two agronomic research institutes - Institute for Alpine Agriculture in Lovech and Fruit Growers Institute in Plovdiv. Especially extensive scientific studies have been made at the Supreme Forest Research Institute in Sofia, from a young student at the time, Dimitar Stoyanov, who after defending his dissertation on this plant became a professor at the same institute.
Overwhelming presence of antioxidants in aronia helps preventing and reducing the risk of diseases caused by oxidative stress. Maintaining high elasticity and permeability of normal blood vessel walls, chokeberry juice lowers blood pressure, purifies the vascular wall of atherosclerotic plaques. Fresh juice aronia, taken in 50 ml three times a day has an excellent clinically proven effect against hypertension. It is invaluable for prophylactic and rehabilitation after stroke, heart attack and other diseases of the cardiovascular system.
The combination of vitamins P and C helps the body to be released from radioactive substances and heavy metal ions. Aronia juice has hormone-like effect and contributes to the breakdown of adrenaline. It can be used successfully against cancerous growths. Aronia energizes the body, restores life force, helps overcome fatigue and nervous disorders, stimulates the regeneration of muscles and bone tissue, blood formation and metabolism.
The aronia berries is characterized by a real richness of vitamins and minerals. The highest content is of vitamin P. In this regard aronia is an absolute record breaker among the fruits. Significant is the amount of potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and among the trace elements the best provided are iodine, manganese, copper, molybdenum. Not fewer are the organic acids - citric, malic and succinic. Representative is the amount of pectin, tannins and coloring matter.
The creation of new plantations of chokeberry is preceded by a main soil treatment in depth of 40- 50 cm, and where there is no proper technique in depth of 30-35cm. Before the main treatment mainly fertilization is done (in option). In bio-farming mineral fertilizers are replaced with manure, compost or biohumus imported at the rate of 6-8 tons per decare or 8-10 kg of propagation pit. Best time for planting aronia is in autumn, 2-3 weeks before the permanent frost of the soil. The most common planting distance between rows is 3.5-4 m, and inside the lines - 2,5 m. In order not to produce many cuttings, young plants are planted in shallow.
Aronia is light- and wet-loving plant. By the time the fruit get bigger, from late May to July, the plants need enough water. Additional watering of 5-10 liters per plant is needed by reduced rainfalls.
During the formation of the aronia bush pruning is more moderate in order not to grow many shoots. The highlight of the newly planted plants with 6-7 buds are cut. Then each year 4-5 new shoots are left and surpluses are removed. During the first 6-7 years after planting, major fruit-bearing branches shall not be removed. Only the weak, broken and lying on the soil surface shoots are removed. The proper pruning starts on the 6th or 7th year after planting and aims lightening and rejuvenation of the bush. Aronia, especially the bush type, is predisposed to bearing the fruit in the top. This leads to an extension of the branches that dip into the soil and so reduce yields and the fruit becomes petty. The purpose of pruning is to keep balance between the different age shoots in the bush; the shoots number should be around 30-35.