Blackberry Review

abz5bOctober 3, 2012

Said I'd put a short review up for some of the varieties that i currently grow at my residence. All varieties have around 8 plants and are drip watered. I currently have Chester, Chickasaw, Prime-Ark, Prime-Jan, Triple Crown, and Boysenberry.

1. Prime-Ark: Prone to Anthracnose even under drier conditions

Triple crown has no issues and they are right next door.

Drip irrigation is more important for this variety.

2. Prime-Jan: This variety is more aggressive and has no problem

Establishing itself in lower light conditions

3. Chickasaw: Like this variety for the huge sized berries. Aggressive

And could easily form a hedge. Will be keeping this variety.

4. Triple Crown: 2nd year with these guys and taste and ease of care

Are very nice. Great variety. Large Berries. Keeper

5. Chester: Phenomenal growth from these plants in their 3rd year.

This variety is a little more on the sour side. Great for jam/jellies

And wine. Kids can wade right in.

6. Boysenberry: Best fresh tasting berry I have ever eaten out of the

Old garden. This is the second year and immediately after eating

My first set of berries I purchased 3 additional plants. Thorned

Variety is very hardy and performs well in my 6a zone.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Thanks for the report. Your previous post on the thorny Boysen hardiness prompted me to get one plant to try out. I will be interested in the flavor of the Prime-Jan, I heard those were several notches down the flavor scale so have not tried them myself.

Here is my experience this year. All of the blackberries got beat pretty ragged this year with all the rain and heat. I put down ground cloth to control the weeds but that didn't improve their growth a whole lot. They are putting on good fall growth now that the weather has cooled.

Siskiyou - this has been completely hardy for me so far, but last winter was not a test at all. Flavor is excellent, fruit is early. It is part raspberry so they are a touch purple when ripe.

Kotata - similar to Siskiyou but smaller.

Cascade - this is also another part-raspberry one; it is not really hardy enough and is smaller but I would say it tastes a touch better than the above.

Onyx - a new guy from Oregon State, unlike the above it has that "black" blackberry flavor in spades and not the rasp/black cross. The harvest was tiny but I have high hopes for this one so far. Unfortunately it is thorny. Only one winter of test.

Wild Treasure - these have not been putting on good growth for me, either they really don't like the heat or they are less vigorous. The berries are small but excellent tasting. Birds ate nearly all of them.

Triple Crown - no berries this year since I started a new planting but it has been a very reliable and productive berry in past years. They are not quite as flavorful as the above but are much easier to grow since the canes generally grow up instead of to the side.

Since my aisles get mowed I need to repeatedly tie up the trailing canes or move them over to be in the row, and if I don't get them fast enough they get mowed. Overall its more work than I have time to do right. My plants are mostly on the young side and hopefully more mature plants will need less work since they can be draped over the trellis. Thornless is very handy for maintaining these trailing canes to untangle them and get them draped over. But the thornless varieties are usually more brittle in the canes so its easier to break them while manipulating them. All I want to find is a couple good trailing varieties I can reliably and easily grow and I will be happy.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Boysenberry (thorny)- These were great. It was my first year getting them and they are now my #1 berry. They were a pain (literally) to tie up, but it was worth it. I've started propagating more into containers and will need to decide how I can manage them more easily.

Triple Crown- I've been gradually improving my management of these. The first year I let way too many tip-root. The 2nd year, I pinched them when they got tall enough, but never pinched the side shoots, so I had 10 foot canes which I wound back and forth between wires (~3' apart). That lead to way too much weight when the ice storms came, which collapsed the trellis. This year, I've pruned them back into miniature trees. They were very productive this year, but some animal ate a lot of the berries. I suspect squirrels, as I caught one in the act, though birds could have been involved as well.

Ouachita- This was the first year I had Ouachita. They were OK, but the flavor was a couple levels below TC. I didn't mind, but if I brought my kids a few berries, they would ask which kind they were and reject any Ouachita. They are more erect than TC, which is nice, but I don't think it's enough. I'll probably give them another year before replacing them with boysenberries.

Prime Jan- I was ready to give up on these last year, as they just weren't that productive in their 2nd year. The thorns are also pretty nasty. I'm feeling much better about them this year. They've produced a larger crop (compared to last year) and they are filling in a time when the rest of the blackberries are long done. They really kicked in around August 15th and have just tailed off over the last week or two. There are still some berries ripening on the plants and they are even flowering (which will likely get frozen out in a month or so).

From a flavor standpoint, it is hard to compare, since they aren't ready at the same time. They definitely aren't as good as the boysenberries and I don't think they are even as good as Triple Crown. But, they are at least as good as the Ouachita and maybe a bit better.

The one problem I had with them this year is yellow jackets. Between them and the thorns I had to be very careful when picking...

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

I grow 3 types of Blackberry and each row gets 33 feet so 100 feet total. They have been in ground for 3 years.

Ouachita berries were hard and sour. The harvest is very spread out.

Natchez were ok but bland, beautiful berries though.

Kiowa THORNY but huge berries and very sweet.

For my soil and the amount of sun this patch receives Kiowa wins hands down. I finally bit the bullet and ripped out the other two varieties and this winter will plant more bare root Kiowas and just have 100 feet of them.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 8:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is my second year testing a number of berry varieties in my coastal northern California climate with near ideal berry conditions. My goal was to get a long season of continuous harvest. I tried all the major types - trailing, semi-erect, erect, and primocane-bearing.. Here they are in order of ripening:

Trailing. This berry is very early, productive, and makes sweet, very large berries with an excellent, unique flavor - almost cherry-like. A real winner - favorite of all who tried it. Ripened 6/6-7/4.

Trailing. Great taste and great productivity. My favorite berry for jams and pies. Fabulous jewel-like maroon color. Also good to eat out of hand although on the tart side. Ripened 6/11 - 6/26

Old-time California berry with great taste. Supposed to hold up to heat and/or low chill better than other trailing berries. My plants were less vigorous and slower to establish than my other trailing berries. Ripened 6/11-7/4

Trailing. I was really looking forward to trying this one, but I suspect it was mislabled as it was identical to boysen. Scott, you said yours had a touch of purple - but are they maroon just like boysen?

Erect, thornless. I bought this berry because I was told it would be the earliest. Well, it's not that early and it's only OK in flavor and productivity. No real reason for me to continue growing this one. Extended harvest from mid June through July.

Trailing. Outstanding, aromatic, true blackberry flavor. These also got off to a slower start, although this year's growth was very vigorous so planning on a large harvest next year. Ripened 7/4-8/1

Trailing. Very unusual berry with outstanding unique flavor. A connoisseur's berry. This is a large berry that is red to maroon when ripe. It has a very long harvest season. Harvesting can be tricky - the berries hide in the leaves and also are hard to detach from the plant, even when ripe. They get a funny taste if allowed to over-ripen. Ripened 6/15-8/1

Triple Crown.
Semi-erect, thornless. A good berry. Large and sweet. To me, the flavor took a little getting used to after enjoying the trailing berries, and seeds were much larger. Also, a number of the berries had UV damage. All the same, this berry fits in well for me as it ripens just when the trailing berries are finished. 7/20-8/23

Semi-erect, thornless. Vigorous and productive - but sweetness and flavor not very good. Big seeds. Latest ripening of my floricane bearing blackberries. This one will probably be removed. 8/23-9/30

Prime Ark.
A very large, decent tasting berry, one notch lower than Triple Crown. Main advantage of this primocane-bearing berry is that it is very late. Just starting to bear now -10/1.

My recommendations? For those who can grow trailing berries - they are the best. Altough Triple Crown pretty good, too. A long window of great tasty berries can be obtained with Obsidian, Marion and Triple Crown. Boysen is my number one choice for pies, jams and freezing. All the berries ripen in a short window, making it more efficient to harvest.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 2:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Johnny, thanks for the great report.

Siskiyou has Boysen as a grandparent so there is some genetic similarity. I have not yet fruited Boysen but Tayberry is much more red than Siskiyou for example. I can't say if you had a mixup or not. My first Siskiyou, from Raintree, was a mixup -- it was some crummy wild blackberry. Too bad it was not the real thing, it took me two years to kill it it was so vigorous.

I have fruited a few of the ones you mention in previous years, I can add my opinion. Blackberries are more climate-dependent than fruit trees so taste can vary by quite a bit. I am definitely too hot/cold for many blackberries.

Marion is excellent for me but is not fully hardy. I covered them for a few years but got tired of the work and ripped them out.

Tayberry did not ripen properly, they went from sour to one hour of good to overripe/falling apart/funky tasting. They got ripped up as well.

Obsidian produced a few excellent berries for me but the plants are not growing well. They get a leaf curl which is not caused by any bug or disease I can see and no other nearby variety gets. There is a chance that the nursery source was infected with a virus, but I expect it is more they can't take the heat.

And here are a few others you didn't mention.

Metolius does not ripen properly in my climate, they stay hard and small and don't sweeten.

Black Pearl is not hardy.

Logan is my favorite-tasting berry, it has a complex flavor with clove and other unusual components. Too bad its not hardy or productive -- all ripped out.

I have three numbered Oregon berries as well as Newberry and Black Diamond which have not fruited yet.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 3:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just planted five new Ouachita this past spring. There were a few very sour black berries, and that was it for year one. I don't like what I hear about these berries from your reports. Well, I'll given them a year and see what happens. According to the reviews I read before purchasing them, they sounded excellent and were right up there with Triple Crown which was my second choice. Anyone have success or a decent berry from Ouachita? Many thanks, Mrs. G

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 3:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Mrs. G, a good general link for variety information is below. It calls Ouachita "poor" in the flavor department. I have found the rankings of this U Oregon list to be reasonably accurate.


Here is a link that might be useful: Oregon blackberry recommendations

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 6:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


It also lists Ouachita as very is actually thornless.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 7:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am surprised nobody mentioned Doyle. In my experience it is very good. I love it more than TC and it is certainly more productive.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 8:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

For thorny I liked Metolius and Obsidian better than Marion. The thornless Black Diamond and Black Pearl are bigger and better than Wild Treasure. Given the ease of production I liked the two thornless a lot better than the thorny and the fruit was as good. These are much better tasting than Kiowa or any of the other erect blackberries I've tried. But they weren't grown under the same conditions.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 10:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Scott and Bamboo is right, it is thornless. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 12:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


What do you mean by weren't grown under the same conditions?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 7:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

One thing with the Prime-Jans. First year berries were a bit off in taste. This is going on the third year and the taste improved enough that I decided not to rip them out for now. Very sturdy plants. Out of the erect varieties I think Chickasaw is my favorite as they just churn out the berries like no tomorrow plus the large size/sweet taste dont hurt either.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 4:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is a fascinating post. Thanks for sharing, everyone!

I live about 30 miles south of St. Louis. I've put out a bunch of different varieties of berries this year. I will get my first crop next year. Here's what I have:

6 triple crown

1 chester

2 black satin

1 doyle

2 unknown (given to me by a friend, but they seem to look just like doyle. I suspect they are doyle)

5 loganberry

2 boysenberry

2 ouchita

1 arapaho

1 apache

2 navaho

What I'm curious about is whether the boysenberry and loganberry plants will overwinter here. We were in Zone 5b, but the 2012 USDA hardiness zones changed us to 6b this year.

Has anyone here grown boysenberries or loganberries in Missouri or in a similar climate?

I don't want to have to take them off the trellis and insulate them. Too much hassle and my space is limited. I need to know if they will survive on the trellis over winter.

I have space for one more plant. I'd like to grow a boysenberry in that space since I've heard so many good things about it, but I don't want to waste a year to find out if it will overwinter successfully. If it probably won't, I'll just go with another chester or triple crown.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 10:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is a picture of one of my triple crown blackberries. I planted it just earlier this year. The growth has been phenomenal. If I had to estimate, I'd say it put out 70-80 feet of total growth this year (it's first year!!!). The trellis is about 7ft high with three wires. The plant put up four primocanes that are all between 10 and 15 feet long each with several laterals.

My Chester blackberry has been nearly as vigorous with the same number of primocanes and many laterals. However, the primocanes are about 7-8 feet long.

I can't wait for next year to see what the berries are like.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 6:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Drew, the Logans will not do well, anything approaching 0F seems to do them in. This is with the thornless one. The thorny one could be more hardy but I have never found anyplace selling it. ABz5b has been doing well with thorny boysens in a similar zone as yours, so hopefully they will be OK. The thorny ones are much more hardy than the non-thorny ones so hopefully you have that kind.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 9:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Scott, thanks for the response. All the boysenberries I have are thorny. The Loganberries are not. I will give the Loganberries this one winter. If the canes don't survive, they're going to come out and be replaced with something else (perhaps more boysenberries if they overwinter....)

Thanks so much for your comments and response!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 5:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

First off, I want to say 'thank you' to everyone on this forum as I have read through about every post during the year about blackberries and raspberries. This is my first year growing them, though I have eaten wild blackberries my entire life and enjoy their consumption. I live in the northern most part of Kentucky in zone 6a/6b. This year was incredibly hot and dry, with temperatures hitting 100F or more about 5 times. I haven't installed drip irrigation yet but I did water them all regularly so of the 33 plants I started with I have 31 of them still alive (2 of the Kiowa's died). With watering and despite the heat, all of the plants generally grew well and I'm well-positioned for next year's fruit production. As for problems, the boysenberries picked up Septoria leaf spot fungus but that's about it. Bugs were mild and I put up a 7ft fence the keep the deer and rabbits away.

Plant Notes

Triple Crown - from a small plant it is amazing you can have 10-15 ft of blackberry plant in one season. All of the triple crowns grew well.

Boysenberry (Thorny) - planted these later in the summer (in serious heat) and they survived. They looked like they were starting to take off when our first frost came along a couple of weeks ago and slowed them down. Picked up Septoria leaf spot fungus.

Boysenberry (Thornless) - planted in late May but took off during the summer. I had a good 6-8ft of growth. Picked up Septoria leaf spot fungus.

Loganberry (Thornless) - slow grower; plant is about 3-4ft now

Marionberry - bought three of them to try out (brought a larger one back in my carry-on luggage from San Diego´┐Żok, I have problem) and all grew well. The larger one grew a good 10-12ft overall. I hate the thorns on these worse than all the rest. All three are in pots this year, so that I can bring them in during really cold weather.

Black Diamond - slowest grower of all, very short plant.

Prime Ark 45 - second strongest grower next to triple crown, actually had a few berries this year though they are actually peaking now (10/24) in their blooming. Hopefully they are not as late next year.

Ouachita - planted these really late in the summer just to see what happens next year. Hoping allow all summer long production by filling in some of the production gaps in time.

Kiowa - had a couple of big tasty berries. Grew ok, not as robust as Prime Ark. Needed to be trellised to keep them off the ground.

Silvan - moderate growth.

Wild Treasure - started off slow but actually started growing really well. Ended up with 6-8ft canes / vines.

On order:

Kotata (planting in the Fall)

Siskiyou (ordered for the Spring)

I have been taking pictures as well, to give back. I really like seeing how other people's plants are growing.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 11:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

drewbym: You're the only one on here who seems to grow "Black Satin" and you didn't have any comment on it. We had a patch of 3 of them when I was a kid. They really were thornless.
I found them a little sour, unless i waited longer than I was able to as a kid. But I still ate them. My Mom loves them.

Seems to me many of these ratings are for plant growth, but i'm more interested in fruit.

How did they rank for you? And can I have some? I don't remember our plants layering at all, but maybe I can convince some cuttings with rooting hormone.
Maybe i have something you like. -Laura

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 2:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have some respberry plants that were given to me my a friend. I do not know the species, but the berries are large and plentiful. The bushes grow about 3 -4 feet a year. I have some small ones also.

I would like to trade raspberry plants for thornless backberry. Anyone interested?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 7:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Thanks for the reviews. Helpful. To me sour is a trait I want. I like to make seedless jam with blackberries. I just finished off my last jar of Blackberry-kiwi-pomegranate jam. I need tart fruit. I really prefer fruit to be ripe but tart. I can use sweeter berries picked early, and these often have more pectin. I hate sweet jams, it takes a bit to get it to jell at times, but I use a ratio of about 1 cup sugar to 2 cups berries. Adding grated apple and lemon juice, sometimes pectin, sometimes not. If mixed with other fruits high in pectin one can often get them to jell with low sugar. If they do not, you just add sugar and redo the process. Each berry is different so no set method. I'm still experimenting.
Any reports on Wyeberry? I myself prefer raspberries, and I see that the hybrids taste best, of course as raspberries rule!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 9:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Black Satins are definately on the tart side. They are prone to cane damage in low temps. My canes on all six plants died in my zone 6a when we had a pretty bad -2 freeze one winter. Nice thread going on here some definitely good information :)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"Nice thread going on here some definitely good information)"

I agree a lot of good info, and some obscure cultivars mentioned that are decent. Not really any info on Apache and Navaho. Trailing mentioned as better, but nobody really talked about these uprights. Nobody seems to have Wyeberry either. Which I guess is like the Tayberry but more productive. Thorny too.
Some variations exit also like Nectar Boysenberries. I'm not sure if this is a Boysenberry proper or a sport of one? Or something else?
Purple raspberries might appeal to blackberry growers. I know they appeal to me!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 11:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Black Satin is a heavy bearer here and is good for baking or cooking. Tends to layer its berry clusters, I remove most interior clusters. Stays tart until it nearly falls apart.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 11:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Nectar boysenberries are a close approximation supposedly of the boysen that was developed later by someone in oregon. I havent tried them myself so i cant speak about quality or hardiness on those though. Trying the purple raspberies in containers. currently have yellow and red :)

Seems like the loganberries might not be hardy enough for my zone even though i've been upgraded to a 6b per the USDA chart.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 6:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Baby G (Z10, 300?CH, SoCal-LA)(10)

Johnnycom, I'd love to hear an update on how your berries did two years later. You are closer to me (I'm zone 10 California, 2-300 Chill Hours). And how you'd rank them by taste.

I sometimes find that blackberries have a bitter aftertaste. Does anyone else get that? Is it particular to just some cultivars? I like sour just fine, but bitter can be off-putting.

I've been geeking out on blackberries for the last few days and JTBurton has been helping me out a lot. Thanks to him I've refined my list, but I'd love to know what your take is on these cultivars. (I got a kick out of reading in this thread that he did exactly what I'm doing now two years ago -- reading every thread, article and website on trailing blackberries.)

Blackberry, Marion
Blackberry, Olallie
Boysenberry, Thorny
Boysenberry, Thornless (different plant)
Loganberry, Thornless
Blackberry, Kiowa
Blackberry, Siskiyou
Should I consider Obsidian?

Raspberry, Bababerry
Raspberry, Fair Dinkum
Raspberry, Fall Gold

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 3:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you have the space and extra effort, it is probably more efficient to 'over plant' now and then pull the varieties that you don't want. You may want to add a couple more for testing.

- 'Columbia Star' is the newest trailing blackberry with supposedly great flavor and it is thornless.
- 'Newberry' is a hybrid with reportedly very good flavor. It is grown in select California locations as 'Ruby Boysen'.
- 'Tayberry' is a hybrid with reportedly a good and unique flavor.

I planted all of these varieties this year and hopefully will be able to report back next summer on flavor.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 10:26PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
4 yr old methley plum tree is yet to flower
I live in Dallas, Texas. I have a 4 yr old methley...
My Spupreme plum turns into Alderman!
At Plant Hill Nursery! They don't have a email address,...
Avo tree grafting
I received this tree from a neighbor. Seed grown, not...
Wisconsin honeyberry/haskap growers?
I'm combining the two as it seems with continued breeding...
Restoring old and neglected apricot trees. Help!
We moved into a new home in the middle of last summer...
Sponsored Products
Sonneman | Connetix Bar Pendant Light
Braided Area Rug: Brook Farm Natural Earth 5' x 8'
Home Depot
Red Vanilla Vanilla Blackberry 12.5 in. Plate and 10 oz. Mug Set - RV164-939
$27.89 | Hayneedle
Hip Doggie Goth Mini - HD-3GMO-XXS
$31.37 | Hayneedle
American Fyre Designs Scroll Screen - 8255-BL
$420.00 | Hayneedle
Eglo Outdoor Lighting. Riga Wall-Mount Outdoor Stainless-Steel Cylinder Light Fi
$34.97 | Home Depot
Contemporary Indoor/Outdoor Braided Area Rug: Colonial Mills Rugs Brook Farm
Home Depot
Braided Area Rug: Brook Farm Burgundy 4' x 6'
Home Depot
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™