ScottfSmith, question about berries

milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)November 29, 2012

I was looking at your page, which is extremely educational, and I noticed that you say, "I prefer the taste of "west coast" blackberries such as Marion, but it is not hardy enough for me. So, I am trialing several of the new western berries to find a few that are both hardy and tasty. So far failures include Black Pearl (not hardy), Metolius (taste mediocre), Tayberry (goes from too sour to mush so it has no good picking window). Triple Crown is a great berry that I grew for several years but am not growing now."

I too love marionberries. Have you found anything that is similar that is hardy enough? How are Black Diamond working for you?

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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

Personally I'm placing my bets on Triple Crown and Illini Hardy here in Zone 5a next spring. I have not been happy with Chester -- not vigorous enough here, at least not in my microclimate. Based on the taste descriptions, I wanted to try marionberry here, but when I found out that it's not very hardy I quickly changed my mind. So anyway.... I'm not much help right now, but I should have more to say on hardy varieties in a couple of years!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 4:08PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

MHG, I don't know if any of the trailing berries would be hardy in your zone, I am several zones warmer. I think triple crown may be your best bet. There was a guy posting from Z5B who said thorny Boysenberry was working for him so that is another one to try; its definitely a good berry. Black Diamond has been hardy for me so far, but it has not experienced a harsh winter.


    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 8:01PM
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Scott, I've noticed you've posted previously about siskiyou. How do you feel this berry compares to triple crown? I tore both my triple cowns and chesters out this summer. The quality was terrible. Many berries had large seeds to the point I would spit them out rather than eat them. Unless they were dull black in color, they were very tart and the UV damage was very bad. I know most say they have good results with TC, so maybe its just my local conditions or personal taste preferences. I noticed the western blackberries are rated higher taste wise, so I thought I might give one of those varieties a try, but a comparison with TC would be good to know if its worth my effort.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 8:49PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


I found another post where you said. "My recommendation for a western type is Kotata, it has proved to be very hardy for me and is very tasty." Will this be hardy for my zone 5? Can't seem to find it anywhere. Do you have a source?

I think I'll try Triple Crown and Black Diamond and see how it goes, but I would like to know a source for Kotata.

Thanks again for your wealth of knowledge!

Here is a link that might be useful: And now BLACKBERRIES!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 12:19AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

It looks like Burnt Ridge and Rolling River Nurseries have some.Maybe check out Prime Ark while there.It looks like it can take some cold. Brady

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 2:03AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

MHG (&NC), I have found Kotata and Siskiyou to be very similar. I think the quote above was before Siskiyou fruited for me and I would overall rate it a touch better than Kotata since its bigger and the flavor was more reliably good.

NC, Siskiyou is definitely better than Triple Crown. It is part raspberry though (maybe 1/4th) so its not a direct comparison, they are different flavors. The thing I still am looking for is a "really blackberry" tasting trailing berry that is hardy enough for me. So far the new "Onyx" berry is looking good on that and Black Diamond is another possibility.

In terms of hardiness, I have not heard of any reports on any of these berries (besides the Boysen and TC) from zones any colder than mine, so I really have no idea how hardy they are. I have found many to not be all that hardy, e.g. Cascade, Black Pearl, Marion, Logan, etc, so its a fruit you have to be careful on varieties to get good hardiness. All the other ones we have been talking about, Siskiyou, Kotata, Black Diamond, etc, have been hardy for me thus far, but thats all I know.

I got my Kotata from Burnt Ridge. One thing to consider if you are in to experimenting is to do what I did: get a few of each kind and try them all out! I plant them alternating varieties and close together (2') so I can pull the bad ones out and often still have a good planting.


    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 8:44AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

In the 2nd year, Hardy Illini hasn't produced that good of a berry. I'll give it some more time, but the wild ones nearby blow them away in size and flavor, but we're in z6.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 7:58AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I found an interesting site with lots of information!

Here is a link that might be useful: Rowcovers Improve Winter Survival and Production of Western Trailing

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 2:25PM
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Where can I find "Onyx", "Siskiyou", or "Metolius" blackberry plants online? Is there a "local" source for these and other "new" or "trial" varieties?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 2:04PM
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I found a place which has siskiyou:

However it claims it range goes down to z8. So it may not survive in Denver

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

JT, Raintree and Berries Unlimited are where I got most of mine from. I think I got Siskiyou from Bay Laurel and it looks like Peaceful Valley is also selling it as per Steves link.

Steve, that z8 for siskiyou is bogus, it has taken z7 weather several years for me with no dieback. In general the nursery hardiness numbers for western blackberries are pretty bad.

I'm not sure the western type berries are going to be keepers for me, they are not big fans of hot weather.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 5:18PM
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To NC Orchard....

It could be your soil....

That's an issue where I am at... Even the sweetest, sugariest, no-acid cultivated varieties ripen BITTER and super tart here... Our soil is just so depleted and acidic.... They make FINE jelly, but are basically inedible out of hand.... Perhaps if I over-fertilized them, they would tone down a bit....

I more or less gave up on Brambles here (They grow and fruit quite well, though) and grow Blueberries for eating out of hand....


    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 11:09PM
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I went ahead and purchased a couple more Kotata plants. Since they are similar enough to Siskiyou, I thought I would give them a try. I'll still probably cover them the first winter though, just to let them get established. The rest of the western trailing berries managed OK with the temps this winter and on those day where it dipped lower than 15F, I just moved them into the garage. I'm not doing that again, so they are all going into the ground pretty soon.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 10:52AM
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So far i can say that in zone 5b Prime Jan and Prime ark have no issues at all, have been in ground for going on 4 years. Chester is good as well. Boysenberries look to be a winner here as well but i havent had them in ground as long as the Prime-jan/Prime-ark. After spring gets in full swing ill have a better report for anyone in Zone 5/6. almost forgot, Chickasaw is doing very well. After this year im going to condense to my favorites of all the ones i have currently planted. Still trialing TC.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 3:47PM
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