Our blackberry cultivars and a description of each is as follows:
Prime-Ark Freedom is the world’s first commercially released thornless primocane-fruiting blackberry. This is the fourth in the University of Arkansas Prime-Ark Brand Primocane Fruiting Blackberry cultivar line following the release of Prime-Jan and Prime-Jim in 2004 and Prime-Ark 45 in 2009. All of the prior-released primocane-fruiting cultivars are thorny.
This type of blackberry fruits on current-season canes (primocanes) and on second-season canes (floricanes), potentially providing for two cropping seasons, both traditional summer fruits in addition to late summer to fall production. In addition to having thornless canes, this variety produces very large berries with good flavor and is very early ripening on floricanes.
Fruit of Prime-Ark Freedom does not exhibit exceptional postharvest storage potential but it is not recommended for the shipping market due the berries have low firmness.
Each plant produces groups of berries, like bunch of grapes. The first yield starts forming at primocanes in the beginning of June and continues three to four weeks. During this first harvest season, Prime-Ark Freedom intensively produces floricanes, which soon begin to bloom. Floricanes are thornless. This is the second harvest season, which continues up to the middle of October.
After the end of the second harvest season Prime-Ark Freedom requires winter shelter from winter cold wind and other unfavorable conditions, because the declared cold hardiness of this blackberry variety is moderate, about 8.6 F, but the many growers note that real hardiness is about -4 F when using covering.
Osage is the thirteenth release in a series of erect-growing, high-quality, productive floricane-fruiting blackberry cultivars developed by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. An enhanced effort in the improvement of flavor in blackberries has been underway in the Arkansas program for a number of years, and Osage was developed with the intention of advancing flavor to a higher level in a thornless blackberry cultivar. Osage produces medium-sized berries and has excellent postharvest quality for the shipping market in addition to local market use. Canes of Osage are thornless and erect, up to 4-5' in height. The beginning of bloom is the end of April. First harvest date is the beginning of June. Fruits of blackberry cultivar Osage are round glossy with a uniform black finish. Winter hardiness has shown very little injury to a low of minus 8.6 F.
Ponca offers the top of flavor from one of the world’s leading public blackberry breeding programs. Ponca was selected by John R. Clark, and this cultivar is the twentieth blackberry from the fruit breeding program of the division’s Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.
Ponca is floricane-fruiting medium-sized thornless blackberry cultivar. Bushes are moderately vigorous and very prolific. Plants are low in height, about 4-6' when properly tipping. Primocanes and floricanes are erect in growth habit. Berries and flower clusters are medium-large, cymose, and are mostly borne on the periphery of the plant canopy, providing easy access to harvest.
The canes can be trained to a self-supporting hedgerow although it is beneficial to use a trellis with supporting wires to prevent canes from falling over due to wind or heavy fruit loads.
The bloom period of the Ponca cultivar begins in the last week of April. Flower fertility is high and clusters are well filled. Flowers are big, have white color. Berries ripen in the first week of June. The average floricane fruiting period is 55 days. The fruit is round, slightly oblong in shape and glossy with a uniform black finish. Size is maintained well throughout the entire harvest season.
Ponca cultivar exhibits excellent fruit fertility with full drupelet set. The fresh fruit rates very well in flavor and is a noteworthy attribute of the cultivar and is comparable to Osage. Consistent flavor was noted at repeated observations of fruit of this cultivar over the years of evaluation including after rain events that can reduce flavor and overall fruit quality. The flavor is sweet and sub-acid.
Storage potential of fresh fruit of the new cultivar is good and overall comparable to Osage, berries are very firm. Ponca is disease resistant. Plants and fruit have shown no evidence of anthracnose and no evidence of susceptibility to orange rust. Plants have shown slight susceptibility to cane and leaf rust. Winter hardiness has shown very little injury to a low of minus 1.4 F.
The Ouachita blackberry is a variety of blackberry that was bred by the University of Arkansas. It is known for its large, sweet berries and excellent postharvest fruit-handling potential. The plant has erect canes and is thornless. The fruiting habit of the plant is floricane fruiting (summer-bearing). The flowering on floricanes starts in the first week of May, and the ripening date is in the third week of June. The Ouachita blackberry is moderately cold-hardy and heat-tolerant.
Caring for Blackberry Plants
Growing Blackberries - http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/blackberries-for-the-home-garden.pdf
Southeast Blackberry Production Guide - https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/southeast-regional-caneberry-production-guide#
Blackberry Production Portal - https://rubus.ces.ncsu.edu/
Pest Management Guide - https://smallfruits.org/files/2020/12/2021-Caneberry-Spray-Guide.pdf
Pruning and Training Blackberries - https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/southeast-regional-caneberry-production-guide/pruning-and-training
NCSU Video on Pruning Blackberries - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OztOsj3jUw
How to prune blackberries - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a69fnyJEuJ4