Four cultivars of sea buckthorn berries were analyzed for their carotenoid and chlorophyll contents during ripening in three consecutive years. The different carotenoids generally increased in concentration during ripening and comprised from 120 to 1425 microg/g of DW of total carotenoids (1.5-18.5 mg/100 g of FW) depending on cultivar, harvest time, and year. GLM analyses revealed the effect of cultivar to be considerably larger than that of year and harvest time. The content of pheophytin a, a chlorophyll a derivate, steadily decreased during berry ripening. Pheophytin a therefore acted as a marker of the degree of ripening of sea buckthorn berries and was used here to convert harvest date into an estimated ripening time.