How to choose blackberry variety?

linnea56(z5 IL)April 5, 2014

I see the nurseries and big box stores have the plants out. I don't know one variety from another, though. I have raspberries from a friend, I'd like to try blackberries too. At my parents house in the country we grew both. Theirs were old stock planted by my grandparents, though, not the large fruited type I see being sold in produce departments. Thanks!

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Zone is important. I see you are zone 5, same as me. Borderline for blackberries. Consider the winter tolerance of the varieties you consider.

Many blackberries aren't very sweet. But there are several newer varieties that are notably better than the typical blackberry from the grocery store. Might look for reports of flavor.

Many older varieties of blackberries are thorny. Some of the newer varieties are thornless. If you find yourself picking somewhat at random, might as well select a thronless variety.

There are different growth habits for blackberries; erect, semi-erect and sprawling. I'm far from an expert, but it sounds like the erect require less tending, but the yield is lower. It also seems like the erect varieties might generally be a little more winter hardy than the sprawling varieites, but the sprawling varieties can be covered for the winter and the erect ones can't. Check zone of individual varieties.

You might get some ideas about varieties from this thread

I'm trying triple crown blackberries. They were huge. But more importantly, they tasted better than grocery store berries. Don't know yet it they survived this winter.

Here is a link that might be useful: reports of blackberry results.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 7:53PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Thanks! Lots of good info here. Where my parents / grandparents grew them was 70 miles NW of where I live, so it never occurred to me that they might not be hardy here. They had no care: just rainfall. All my Dad did was to cut the canes off at shoulder level, when he remembered to. And boy, do I remember those vicious thorns! My daughter (now 23) was really willing to suffer for those blackberries. She would do anything if you told her the blackberries were ripe. IâÂÂve never actually bought grocery store berries; I was spoiled by having as much as I wanted for so many years.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 8:52PM
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If you still have access to your parents' blackberries, maybe you could transplant some of those. Would solve the hardiness and flavor questions. But still thorny.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 2:25PM
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    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 2:58PM
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Chester thronless made it here consistantly in zone3/4. If you have reliable snow you should be fine as long as the canes are taken down and buried. If you dont get snow maybe a generous mulching with leaves would be enough.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 3:09PM
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