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Profitable Wolfberries Taste Good And Are Good For You
Don Daugs found his first wild wolfberry, or goji, plant while hunting on his friend’s Utah ranch. It’s presumed that the plants, which have grown in China for centuries, got started in the U.S. when Chinese transcontinental railroad workers dropped seeds or berries. The plants Daugs found were filled with tasty red berries, and he transplanted some to his garden.
  That was 2004. This year, he sold $42,000 worth of seedlings to nurseries and private growers. A 30-ft. row of bushes that he started with 15 plants nets him as much as 100 lbs. of fruit a season, which sells for $10 to $15/lb. for dried and up to $30/lb. for fresh fruit. Leaves used in tea are valued as high as $25/lb.
  Daugs obtained a couple of grants for genetic and nutrient testing so he could identify the best plants for his nursery.
  “The end results are that my plants are closely related to China’s, and the nutrients are as good or better than plants in China,” Daugs says.
  Packed full of essential minerals, trace minerals, vitamins and amino acids, the berries have medicinal qualities with high antioxidant content, caratenoids, catechins and other healthful attributes that claim to reduce everything from inflammation to high blood pressure. Daugs lists the nutrients on his website and is a believer in wolfberries. He and his family faithfully eat the fruit and brew the leaves for tea.
  The plants are drought resistant, require no fertilizer and thrive from “Duluth, Minn., to Hawaii (zones 3-10)”. They prefer alkaline soil with a ph higher than 7. Bare root starts planted in the spring often yield fruit the first year. Wolfberries ripen from late June to first frost. The teardrop shaped berries range from orange to bright red when they are ripe.
  Daugs sells bare root plants starting at $4.50 each. He offers breaks for large orders ($2.30/apiece for 500 or more plants). He also offers more mature plants starting at $8 and $11. He notes that by the third year plants have side shoots that can be started for additional plants.
  His website includes nutritional and growing information and a cookbook for sale filled with wolfberry recipes.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Phoenix Tears Nursery, 1847 South 2400 West, Logan, Utah 84321 (ph 435 753-3656; www.phoenixtearsnursery.com).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #4