[NAFEX] Picking blackberries and harvest report

Mark & Helen Angermayer hangermayer at isp.com
Thu Aug 7 18:13:24 EDT 2008

Jim Fruth wrote:
"Before I can pick berries, I've got to get the primocanes out of the way.
To do that, I put on special armor for my sleeves and puncture-proof

Hi Jim,

Your post illustrates we each have to do what works in our area.  Around
here thornless varieties do fine and there is no reason for us to grow those
thorny monsters.   Thornless varieties pick as easily as blueberries.
I understand thornless varieties wouldn't survive your cold.

We have our own challenges growing blackberries though.  First, the wind is
bad to blow down erect canes and break them off.  So, we have to keep them
shorter than we'd like.  Second, Green June beetles positively devour the
berries.  I probably lost 50% of the harvest to Green June beetles
(Strangely, regular June beetles drowned in all the rain).  One lady I know,
who tries to grow organic blackberries around here, said she wasn't able to
harvest any berries last year because of the Green beetles.  I made it most
of the season without spraying, but as I said, I lost 50% of the harvest.
Chalk up blackberries as another crop that can't be grown organically in
this area.

Lastly, let me take the opportunity to report how various varieties did for
me.  The blackberries are on well drained soil, well mulched, and had plenty
of water.  The soil is very fertile and has been soil tested and fertilized
accordingly.  Low winter temperatures have not dipped below 0F for the last
3 years or more.

ARAPAHO-  Early erect thornless.  Pretty disappointing.  I tore the row out
after this season.  Small size.  Bitter taste unless picked dead ripe (which
is hard to do for this variety).  Sometimes even when picked ripe, not very
sweet.  However, if you can pick one dead ripe, they do have a distinct
sweet flavor.  Incidentally, blackberries are full ripe when, after they
turn black, the druplets swell quite a bit, and the berries lose their
glossy black sheen and turn a flat black.

OUACHITA-  Erect thornless.  Ripens a week after Arapaho.  Much larger and
much sweeter than Arapaho.  Good quality berry and worth the wait.

APACHE-  Erect thornless.  Ripens a week after Ouachita.  These are VERY
large berries.  Flavor is the same as Ouachita, but Apache is slightly
sweeter.  If I were to recommend one blackberry for ease of growing, size,
and flavor, I would recommend Apache.  People who've never seen anything but
store bought blackberries won't believe the size of these two-bite berries.

TRIPLE CROWN- Thornless trailing variety.  Must be trellised.  Ripens a few
days after Apache.  Flavor may be very slightly sweeter than Apache (but
hardly discernable).  Berry size is good, about the same size as Ouachita.
Nice variety, but trellising is a hassle.

Next year I hope to plant some Navaho, which is supposed to be sweeter than
Apache or Triple Crown.  I've heard a lot of good things about it.


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