The Boreal Peonies family farm was established in Two River, Alaska in 2012 as both a production and a research farm. Peonies grown in the production fields will be cut and sold to floral wholesalers and retailers around the world. Because wee are members of the Alaskan Peony Growers Association, our data from the research trials will be provided to the Alaskan peony farming community in an effort to provide advantageous information that will yield the best stems/buds for the Alaskan cut flower industry.
About 5700 peonies were planted in the first production fields in 2013 , and more peonies have been added annually with a total of approximately 15,000 peonies in production and about 1000 peonies in research testing, and 200 in trial/specialty rows.
Production Peonies: The six (6) primary peony varieties planted in the production fields are: Sarah Bernhardt (pink), Duchesse de Nemours (off-white), Festiva Maxima (white with splash of red), Kansas (fuscia/dark pink), Felix Crousse (fuscia/red with silver edging- the photo above), and Victoire de la Marne (dark red/fuscia).
Trial/Specialty Peonies: Additional varieties are being tested in trial rows. These varieties have not been tested in Alaska, therefore, we planted a limited number of individuals of each variety to monitor how well they will grow in this land of the midnight sun.
Research Projects: Researchers from Miami University (Ohio), Indiana University East, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Washington State University run experimental trials on peony varieties in Interior Alaska in an effort to determine best practices for growing peonies in an arctic environment.
- Nutrient/Fertilizer Trial: Twenty-one varieties of peony are currently being monitored in the nutrient/fertilizer plot. This is a long term study which will examine the growth and development of peonies under eight (8) different nutrient and fertilizer treatments. Fourteen varieties were planted in 2013 and seven more varieties were added in 2014. All trials are run in triplicate and all rows are treated with herbicide and fungicide. All peony roots were planted with a mixture of one shovel of peat and one of the following nutrient treatments: A) Russell Mix (RM) (8-32-16, Dolomite, Ag Lime, Mycorrhizal Fungi, Fish Meal, 0-45-0, and Boron); B) Standard Mix (8-32-16, Dolomite and Ag Lime); C) RM without Mycorrhizal Fungi; D) RM without Fish Meal; E) RM without 0-45-0; RM without Boron; RM with Foliar nutrients; and, RM with compost tea. Length of longest stem on each plant is measured every 2.5 days (average) from May (when plants begin to show) until July (when stems are harvested). At harvest, the number of stems with buds is counted, the diameter of the longest stem is measured, the diameter of the largest bud is measured and the average bud size for the plant is determined.
- Herbicide Trials: Herbicide trials conducted in 2014 included testing the effectiveness of Pendulum AquaCap and Outrider on newly planted peonies and on peonies that had been planted last year. Other herbicides are continually being tested.
- Fungicide Trials: Fungicide trials conducted in 2014 included testing the effectiveness of Pageant on newly planted peonies and on peonies that had been planted last year. Again, other fungicides are tested annually.