Aronia Planting Guide Part V – Drip Irrigation, Precipitation

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Irrigate Efficiently Using Drip Irrigation

The annual demand by aronia plants for water is reported to be 32 inches of rain or more spread evenly throughout the year. (I must say this seems a little low to me).

An efficient irrigation system may be a necessary requirement. The sprinkler is generally an inefficient system. Sprinklers can deliver a large amount of water in a short period but at the same time large amounts of moisture is lost due to evaporation. Sprinklers however may be the ideal choice for watering when establishing alfalfa. Alfalfa is relatively drought tolerant, but its growth does depend on the availability of soil water. If there is little or no irrigation water, annual yields will be low.

Sprinkling can help serve as frost/freeze protection for vineyards during bud break and early shoot development in an occasional early spring frost to save a crop but is generally not cost-effective.

The cost of materials, installation, and development of a pond or other water resource generally make it not cost-effective. In addition aronia plants bloom late in the spring usually avoiding the threat of frost so the need for spraying is minimal.

Drip irrigators and soaker hoses are able to deliver a low volume of water over a long period using individual emitters directly at the base of the plant, losing little water to evaporation or runoff. They work well for irrigating aronia plants. Drip irrigation can maintain good moisture levels in the root zone of the plant.


In Southern Wisconsin at an aronia berry farm the average annual precipitation is 36.5 inches. This amount compared to an average of 51.9 inches at the aronia berry farm in central Kentucky is much lower… The average annual precipitation is 32.6 inches in Missouri Valley, Iowa at an aronia Farm. The annual demand for water by aronia plants is said to be 32 or more inches of rains spread evenly throughout the year. Thus the locations mentioned, should in most seasons have sufficient rain for the plants. However drip irrigation should still be provided. This is particularly true in the hot dry summer months when fruit is actively developing. Long periods of hot dry windy weather can affect the yield and the quality of fruit. Aronia plants need regular irrigation to grow well depending on the rainfall, typically every week or two during the growing season.

Aronia shrubs are some of the best at surviving well in very wet winter soils, often caused by slow drainage or continual seepage, and dry summer soils.Because of its root system structure, aronia is successfully grown in soils with low- and high-level ground waters.

In times of drought, the use of gray water can help ease water usage for watering plants. Gray water should be free from food scraps, oils and bleach.

Costs of drip irrigation

A drip irrigation system typically cost about $1000 to $2500/acre in 2012 not including a water source.

Benefits of drip irrigation

The drip irrigation system is usually needed particularly for the hot dry months of July and Aug. Some benefits of drip irrigation include: Drip irrigation benefits include the following.

  • It reduces water requirements compared to spraying. Drip irrigation can exceed 90 percent efficiency whereas sprinkler systems are generally 50 to 70 percent efficient.
  • It increases plant growth
  • It causes new canes to develop
  • It increases berry size
  • It increases fruit production
  • It increases harvest window

Expected yields

One grower reports that he was averaging 2 lbs/plant in 2 years with the help of a drip system. This is in accordance with other reports. The yield should increase every year thereafter. In the third year a yield of 10 lbs per plant could be expected. In the 4th and 5th year a yield of about 20 lbs per plant can be reached.


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