Lingonberries: A promising crop (Video)

Our very own Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientists at the Morden Research and Development Centre in Manitoba are learning more and more about lingonberries and have high hopes for this promising crop. Learn about its health benefits and cultivation.

Video: Lingonberries – A promising crop
Video Transcript

[Upbeat music begins]

[A view of the Morden Research and Development Centre building appears on screen. Cut to a close-up view of a poster against a glass wall. The poster showcases multiple science-related pictures and a title that reads ‘Morden Research and Development Centre – Centre de recherche et de développement de Morden’.]

[Two research scientists walk down a hallway in the Morden Research and Development Centre. They enter another room that leads them to a phytotron, or growth chamber, which they open to a bed of crops. They pick up small, potted lingonberry plants and analyze them.]

[Chris Siow stands outside under a tent with a bed of crops in the background and talks to the camera.]

Text on screen: Dr. Chris Siow, Research Scientist – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Chris Siow: It was 2008 when I started, visiting a research centre over in Newfoundland and I brought some samples back.

And when I analyzed for the antioxidants, because that's my expertise, you know it was so high in antioxidants of anything that I have seen.

I was so surprised.

[A close-up view of a time lapse of a lingonberry crop, with the sunlight changing and reflecting off the berries with frost slowly melting off the berries throughout the time lapse.]

Text on screen: Lingonberries: A promising crop

Siow: Well, the antioxidant was interesting. But when we look at the disease model and then found out that the anti-inflammatory properties.

[A close-up view of some lingonberry crops planted in the ground, surrounded by mulch.]

Siow: Wow, that is really exciting for us. And we have animal models of diseases.

And most recently in our data, when we feed the group of mice with, um, these high fat diet supplemented with 5% lingonberry.

And that actually, improve all the, you know, kidney functions and the liver functions.

[A close-up view of a bed of lingonberries planted in the ground with a close-up view of a person standing amongst the rows of crops.]

Siow: All the disease biomarkers are improved and the blood glucose and fat levels are significantly better.

[A close-up view of a person holding a spoon and pours granola into a bowl of yogurt with a layer of lingonberry jam on top.]

Providing lingonberry in their daily diet may be, uh, just another management option for physicians for chronic kidney diseases.

And the lingonberry actually historically has been consumed by Eastern and Northern Europe and also by the Indigenous People, here in Canada.

So and we know that is growing wild in Manitoba, in northern areas of Canada, not just Manitoba.

And that's where Oscar comes in.

[Outside, Chris and Oscar Molina walk together, towards the camera. Cut to both of them talking and standing in a lingonberry bed full of rows.]

He is doing research in, having test plots here…

[A close-up view of Oscar kneeling down to pick berries from a lingonberry crop within the bed of crops. Cut to Chris and Oscar talking and standing amongst the lingonberry crops.]

…looking into all the different characteristics of how to cultivate lingonberries.

[Oscar Molina talks to the camera while he stands outside.]

Oscar Molina: So my name is Oscar Molina and I'm a research scientist here at the Morden Research and Development Centre in Manitoba.

[Oscar stands outside with the lingonberry beds behind him.]

Text on screen: Dr. Oscar Molina, Research Scientist – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Well, the project is an opportunity not just for the crop, but for the people who know the crop.

And this project is just an opportunity for us to share some knowledge about how we can grow those lingonberries on a larger scale.

This is a small crop but it has its own characteristics.

[A close-up view of a lingonberry bush.]

This is not something that anyone can take and grow in their backyards.

No, it's a crop that needs some care.

There is a number of people working on this project, different colleagues working from plant breeding to the agronomy, which is the part that we do here, and also working on this nutritional value.

Well, lingonberry is an interesting crop.

[A close-up view of lingonberry crops planted in the ground.]

So they're wild berries.

There are also some commercial varieties that are being grown in a more commercial environment, not necessarily here in Manitoba, but in the provinces, also in southern states, in the United States.

They grow these varieties, these European varieties, because they had higher yield.

[The camera zooms in to a lingonberry crop in the wild with trees surrounding it.]

But the difference of the main difference with the wild materials here is that the ones that we had here in Manitoba are known because of the higher content of antioxidants.

But the difference of the main difference with the wild materials here…

[A close-up view of lingonberries pouring into a large bin, filling up with berries.]

…is that the ones that we had here in Manitoba are known because of the higher content of antioxidants.


What we wanted to do was with the project is to find cultivars, a hybrid that can adapt to our conditions here in Manitoba.

[A close-up view of Oscar and Chris walking through rows of lingonberry crops.]

Our biggest challenge has been to find the soil that lingonberries love. Like, for instance, they don't like soils with pH that are too high.

[A close-up view of a white board covered with information about lingonberries.]

So in between 5.5-6 and that's something that we don't really have here in Morden.

[A close-up view of Oscar and Chris talking and looking towards the ground.]

So what we have been doing is that we have created an environment for the plants to grow…

[A close-up view of a sign on a post with the lingonberry beds in the background. The sign reads ‘Lingonberry bed 4’.]

…so we don't really plant the lingonberries in soil.

[Oscar picks up a lingonberry plant in a container with lingonberry plants in the background.]

We are using a mix in between with peat moss and perlite.

[A view of the rows of lingonberry plants in a bed outside.]

And the plants are doing great. The crop has a lot of potential.

[A close-up view of a bed of lingonberries and a person picking berries, with a basket next to them.]

So for me, what is good about this project and the projects that I do in my program is to know that what we are actually doing is going to contribute to the change and is going to matter to someone.

So Lingonberries in particular is either going to, you know, increase the value and eventually, you know, towards the processing after the harvest.

[An overhead view of a container full of lingonberries. A person pours a handful of lingonberries into the container.]

But at the same time, it is also going to contribute with its nutritional value to the food chain.

So that's what is important to me.

[A close-up view of a person pouring lingonberry sauce over a plate of roasted duck.]

Chris Siow: A lot of chefs around Canada love lingonberry. Lingonberry is very hard.

It's not like, you know, blueberries.

[A person touching lingonberries in a large bowl situated in a field of lingonberry crops.]

But lingonberry maintains this structure is solid. The chefs really love the flavour.

Well, one day I would like to see lingonberry in a grocery store.

[Oscar and Chris both hold a lingonberry up to the camera while they stand outside with the lingonberry crops in the background.]

We’d like to create a Made in Canada and Made in Manitoba product.

[Cut to a screen with a small bowl of lingonberries positioned on a white table. A lingonberry rolls across the table and joins more lingonberries that are scattered across the table.]

[Upbeat music ends]

Text on screen: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada

[Government of Canada wordmark]