Goji Berries in Puerto Rico
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Miguel Placer
Posted on: March 20, 2006

I am located in Puerto Rico and want to start planting "Lycium barbarum" known as goji berries. Do you think that I can get a commercial harvest going?

First, I need to comment about the name of the plant. In the marketing of gojiberry products there has been attempts to differentiate gojiberry from Chinese wolfberry, even to the point where made-up botanical names are used. Gojiberry marketers claim that their product is very different. We cannot evaluate this claim conclusively, but we strongly suspect that gojiberry and Chinese wolfberry are one and the same thing. In fact, the Chinese name for wolfberry suggests that the promoters simply adapted the Chinese name to come up with the "gojiberry" name: the Chinese name is "gou qi zi" or "gou gi zi" where "zi" is Chinese for "berry". Of course promoters have a vested interest in disguising the true identity of the plant because wolfberry is a commonly used herb sold in Chinese herb shops worldwide at prices far lower than the prices gojiberry is sold for.

Going on the assumption that gojiberry and Chinese wolfberry are the same plant, we can tell you that you may be able to grow it as a crop in Puerto Rico, but it is not a sure thing. You will have to experiment. The hardiness zone rating for Chinese wolfberry is zone 5-9. Puerto Rico is in a warmer zone. So at first glance it seems that you may have problems growing it. But the hardiness zone system is often inaccurate, especially for tropical and semi-tropical areas, and I would encourage you to try it first before ruling it out on the basis of the zone rating only. Try a small patch of say 100 plants for 2-3 years before committing yourself to a commercial crop scale of production.

Chinese wolfberry is easy to grow from seeds, and of course Richters has seeds available.

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