[NAFEX] Growing Blackberries in the North

Dennis Norton dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com
Fri Dec 16 14:24:51 EST 2005


We have some blackberries that just wont seem to die here in Zone 4/5 of 
northern Illinois.  They have been plowed under at leat 4 times, raspberries 
planted in their place, and they still came back and overtook the 
raspberries.  They are from Indiana Berry and the varieties are:

 Chester--1985 Maryland (Thornfree x Darrow)--Chester is the most winter 
hardy of the thornless varieties. It is a late season berry with large fruit 
and mild flavor. Chester is most resistant to caneblight caused by 
Botryosphaeria dothidea. The fruit is of high quality, does not soften or 
leak color on hot sunny days.

Arapaho--(Plant Patented #8510)--Arapaho fruit is short-conic, bright glossy 
black and firm. Soluble solids concentration are high but slightly lower 
than that of Navaho. An important positive characteristic is its small seed 
size. Seeds are significantly smaller than those of Navaho and Shawnee, but 
slightly larger than those of Choctaw. It ripens 11 days earlier than Navaho 
and 2 days before Shawnee, and it is the earliest ripening thornless 
blackberry cultivar known to date. The fruiting period of Arapaho is 
concentrated into less than 4 weeks. The plants are moderately vigorous and 
erect in growth habit. They have good resistance to cold injury at 
temperatures as low as -24C. No disease problems have been noted following a 
fungicide program consisting of one application of liquid lime-sulfur at 
budbreak. No orange rust has been observed when grown in areas of high 
inoculum. This berry is more prolific in producing primocanes from roots 
than the Navaho. The outstanding characteristics are thornless, erect, 
self-supporting canes, good fruit quality, earliness of ripening, and its 
ability to establish a full fruiting row quickly. This variety will 
compliment Navaho in providing a long harvest season for quality, thornless 

We plowed them under when we had a bad case of rust.  We destroyed all the 
plants above ground prior to plowing and then gathered up all the remainder 
after plowing under the roots.  2 years later, there they were again, 
sprouting between the raspberries we planted in their place.  Now they have 
overtaken the raspberries and the customers pick them right along with the 

Dennis Norton
Royal Oak Farm Orchard

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim Fruth" <jfruth at uslink.net>
To: <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Cc: "File" <bonfire58_2000 at yahoo.com>; "Jim Fruth" <jfruth at uslink.net>
Sent: Friday, December 16, 2005 8:15 AM
Subject: [NAFEX] Growing Blackberries in the North

> Re:
> With regard to blackberry cold tolerance, I would like to hear more about
> what northern gardeners are experiencing as they attempt to grow
> blackberries beyond zone 6.
> Michele Stanton
>    I tried most of the catalog varieties of blackberries and, of those 
> that
> would survive zone 3 winters (with or without winter protection), the
> berries were still green when the first freezes occurred. I said "most"
> because I hadn't learned about Doyle's Thornless Blackberry until three
> years ago - I tried all the others that were advertised in the multitude 
> of
> catalogs that flood my mailbox.  I did not try Doyle's because of negative
> comments about it that I received from former zone 3 growers of that 
> plant.
>    Then, two seasons ago, I learned of an Indiana Company that advertised 
> a
> plant identical(?) to Doyle's claiming that it would survive in zone 3. 
> So
> I decided to try it.  My order consisted of tissue culture plants and it
> arrived sans packaging; I received a box of mud balls - I have one 
> surviving
> plant and I'll learn if it survived my winter next Spring.
>    As for blackberries in general, they all came from the wild, at one 
> time
> or another, so I've been experimenting with wild types.  Britton & Brown
> lists sixteen separate species in the Eastern United States and I set out 
> to
> find all that grow in my geographical area.  When examining wild types, we
> must understand that many/most wild plants live on the brink of 
> extinction.
> They are crowded by other plants.  They compete for what few nutrients 
> that
> may be available.  Taller plants rob their light and they must depend on
> Mother Nature for what rain-drops they get that their competitors don't
> grab.  We cannot judge a wild plant in the environment in which it grows; 
> we
> must bring it home and nurture it like any other treasured garden plant.
>    Some of those wild types weren't worth growing.  Some have few, but
> tasty, fruit.  They don't produce enough to warrant garden space.  Some
> produced betterunder the stresses of the wild.  Some produced copious
> amounts of fruit so soft when ripe that they became mush when harvested. 
> My
> trials are nearly over and it looks like I'll be growing two varieties. 
> One
> of those is worthless in even a half-day's sun, preferring regular but 
> scant
> light.  It isn't a great producer but it thrives under low light 
> conditions
> where little else will.  The other is (obviously?) one of the parents of
> Doyle's blackberry because it produces copious amounts of fruits though
> smaller that those of Doyle's claims.  It can produce fifty or more 
> berries
> on a short branch; it didn't produce like that in the wild.  And, best of
> all, it needs no winter protection.  I'll need another year's evaluation
> before I make any further claims about it.
>    Before I embarked on my blackberry trials I begged nursery people to
> sell me wild plants that grow in their area - for whatever reason(s), all
> refused.  In one instance at least, that is about to change.  A NAFEX 
> member
> and I negotiated a trade.................five of my Boysenberry plants for
> five of her Bangor Maine Blackberry plants, fair enough.  Now I shall have 
> a
> new plant to play with.  Word of my successes with growing blackberries in
> zone 3 has gotten out and, every year, folks knock on my door asking to 
> buy
> wild plants.  I oblige.
> -- 
> Jim Fruth
> Brambleberry Farm
> Pequot Lakes, MN
> www.bberryfarm.com
> Jams, Jellies and Syrups

More information about the nafex mailing list