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Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Posted by glenn_russell 6b (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 3, 08 at 20:16

I thought that Raspberries were supposed to have thorns. In fact, I have about 8 other varieties, and all have thorns though some more than others. I planted a bed of "Joan J" from Norse this year. Theyre doing well, but no thorns. Smooth as a baby's skin. I would have thought that if they were thornless, then there would have been more talk about that (in their catalog, other people talking about Joan J being thornless). Is it really thornless? Would thorns develop later (on my other plants, they all definitely had thorns by this age). I doubt Norse would have mislabeled them as something else (like blackberries) Any other thoughts? Thanks,

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Joan J is definitely thornless, which is nice.

It's fruit, however, leaves a lot to be desired, IMO. It produces a ton, but it's kind of got a waxy, bland flavor. I hope it's better for you than what I've had!

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Thanks Fruitgirl!

Sorry to hear that they don't taste as good... Well, like I said, I have about 9 beds of different varieties, so Im not putting all my apples (or raspberries) in one basket. (Heritage, Kiwi Gold, Caroline, Reveille, Polana, Joan J, Prelude, Autumn Britten, Jewel) Although a recent post said something to the affect of "don't know why anyone would ever plant anything other than 'Caroline'", I like to stagger my harvest, so I'm trying all different varieties.

Nourse rated Joan J's flavor as "Excellent" instead of just "Good". I know I need to take their literature with a grain of salt... because they're selling a product. But, I had hoped that it would be a better tasting than one of the "Good" flavored one.

I wish there was a chart, created by someone who isnt selling a product, which compared many of the raspberry varieties: Cultivar, Type, Berry Size, Yield, Firmness, Ripening Date, Flavor, Root Rot susceptibility, Winter Hardiness, etc. When I say "many", I mean 100 or so. I know there is limited information on a couple varieties, but they never have enough varieties for me to compare what I have with what Im interested in purchasing also, much of the info comes from people selling the varieties. Anyone know of such a chart?

In another post recently someone talked about not liking the vigorous 'Fall Gold'. I'm wondering if that's the same or similar to my 'Kiwi Gold'? If so, I actually like that one quite a bit, and like the fact that it's vigorous and produces so well for me. Most of my beds are surrounded by lawn, so if they go out their bed, the mower just gets them on the way by.

Do you know of other thornless varieties? Any thornless varieties taste better than Joan J?

Anyway, thanks again!

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Glen have you been able to taste test your Joan J's yet...we have 1000 plants coming in spring of 2009 and like you, were told this is the berry to "die" for...Fruit girl tells us they taste like ornamental fruit...not good for an up and coming grower. Please let us know what your first berries are like? Much Thanks-Stan

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Hi Mtnstan-
Wow. 1000!
I planted 5 BR Joan-J this year, and the basal(new word for me... thanks FruitGirl!) canes are coming in strong. I've got almost full sun and well drained soil. There are indeed berries on there, but they're not ripe yet. I'll let you know when they are, and how they taste. But, take my opinion with a grain of salt, I also like my wild Concord (I think) grapes that grow on my property, and other people say they are barely edible. :-) Did you buy yours for some sort of commercial venture? -Glenn

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

As you can see from my pics below, I'm still a week? (or 2? Or 3?) away from having my very few first year Joan J berries.

Since you ordered from Nourse, are you in the New England area? Perhaps Nourse would have some that you could taste? I believe they have "Pick Your Own" berries... Perhaps some are Joan J? If not, if you felt like stopping by when they were ripe, we could probably work something out (Send me an email).
Even though FruitGirl is the berry expert here, it's only 1 person's opinion. Other people don't like the Yellow raspberries, and I think they're the best.

As you can see from my post above, although I hold Nourse in the highest regard, as with any plant seller, its difficult to glean any information out of the catalog Every specimen sounds like the best. Sounds like we need to have another "Best of the Best" taste testing results thread like we just did with apples.

Here is a link that might be useful: Best of the Best apple tasting

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Glenn thanks for the pictures. You have some nice plants there. We have placed a call to the Nourse's...and you are right 1000 berries are a lot...especially if they don't taste good. We have some great soil and some great conditions for raspberries so our venture begins. like the yellow ones. Has Fruit Girl told you what her favorite varities are yet? I would be curious to know. Our extension service seems to think the Caroline is the best...but, that was before Joan J. And...when it comes to you said... every palate is different. To me any ripe raspberry is to die for! Again thanks for your help.

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

I haven't tried them all, but I like Caroline and Anne the best so far. If you read Joan J's variety description on Nourse's website, it just says the flavor is "good," and focuses more on its shipping characteristics. In the box below, it does say the flavor is excellent. However, for Caroline, the variety description is very enthusiastic about the flavor. That's quite telling, IMO.

Honestly, if this is your first venture into raspberries, I'd plant at least 3-4 different varieties to see which works best for your site. Are you planning on marketing these, or are they strictly for home use? If you are marketing them, what are your plans regarding this? Is it PYO, on-farm sales, farmer's markets? I'd be glad to offer some advice, but if you talk with the folks at Nourse about this, I'm sure they'd be also help you pick out a few varieties to try. Joan J is a new, hot variety (mostly because of its yield and shipping qualities), so they'll be able to sell part of your 1000 plant order no problem.

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Hi Fruitgirl-
When I first started reading your post, I had to go back to Nourse and read the description:

"The fruit is large, very firm and holds its size well. Berries are firm, easy picking (they release well) with small drupelets and good flavor. The fruit will hold and ship well, as it is dry. Highly recommended for planting when early fruit is required."

But, (as you mentioned) thats not what I saw when I purchased them I saw the "Details":

Best in Zones: 3-8
Flavor: Excellent
Berry Size: Very Large
Firmness: Very
Freezing Quality: Excellent
Suited For: Any Grower

where they say the flavor is "excellent". *sigh* At the very least, they should be consistent here. As Ive said before the text provided by the nurseries is bordering on worthless. Its very easy to read their text and fill in the blanks with what you want to hear. Although I hold Nourse in the highest regard, this is one area that they can improve. I dont think it would cost them any sales they just might sell more Caroline instead of other varieties.

I agree Ive yet to taste a "bad" raspberry.

What did Nourse say when you asked them about Joan Js flavor?

It sounds like youre flirting with a lot of the right varieties (Caroline for flavor/productiveness, Joan J for shipping, Kiwi Gold for vigor/productiveness/flavor, Anne for better flavor), but I completely agree with FruitGirl that it would be better to experiment first. (Also, hold her recommendations over mine Ive only been doing this for a few years and I believe she has quite a bit more experience) Depending on exactly what youre doing (say a fruit stand v.s. selling to a large distributor), you might actually want a couple different varieties. I have yet to meet someone who isnt impressed with trying something that theyve never had before (a yellow raspberry) and finding it very tasty and, quite possibly, even better than a red. Also, might you want to stagger your harvest a little (by using different varieties), or do you want one large harvest all at once?
Im looking forward to planting a bed of Anne in the spring.
My fall crop is just starting. My girls and I will soon have all the berries we can eat!
Good luck!

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Ok, I tried my first 'Joan J' raspberry today. First I had a couple of similarly ripened Heritages as a warm-up, and then I tried it. The result? It tasted good to me... like, well, a raspberry! But, then again, all my red raspberries taste fine to me. I only notice very subtle differences between the flavors... Heritage, Caroline, Autumn Britten, Polana, Prelude, Reveille, Joan J... all taste good to me. (I did notice a little bit of an aftertaste yesterday with a Polana though). I dont know how to quantify my perception of the taste difference, but Ill say that for me, all my reds taste within about 4% of each other, assuming you eat them at just the right time. They other 96% is just plain raspberry goodness. (Yes, I know assigning a percentage is silly, but I dont know any other way to quantify it) On the other hand, the taste difference between a red and a yellow raspberry is huge and almost incomparable.

As of today, and my 1 berry, Im not sorry I planted them. And, if I had bought 1000, todays tasting wouldnt have caused me any concerns whatsoever. I consider the fact that it very productive (Fruitgirl says they produce a ton), thornless (very nice!), and its harvested at a different time than some of my other berries*, I consider all of these a plus.

So, did you change your Norse order?

Hi Fruitgirl - Perhaps you tasted an odd batch due to a bad year/weather? And maybe its time to give them a 2nd try? Or perhaps your raspberry palette is more advanced than mine (Connoisseur) and Im not speaking detailed enough on the very subtle taste differences?

Pic below.


* Im not sure if its because its their first year (on basal canes), but its actually starting about 2 weeks after my heritage. I thought it was supposed to ripen "early" according to the description. Ive noticed that it seems like some of my other varieties are also on their own calendars. But, no matter, as long as theyre all at slightly different times, thats really all I care about.

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

From a piece published: 13 July 08:

Derek Jennings, the well known raspberry breeder responsible for all the Glen varieties which were named after the Scottish Glens that Derek had walked, describes his more recent successes produced during his 'retirement' in Kent.

Autumn Fruiting Raspberries: keeping up with the Joans

"After years of breeding summer-fruiting raspberries in Scotland it was difficult for me to give up the job when I `retired`. So I formed a partnership with a leading Kent fruit grower and, since I needed a change, took up the breeding of the autumn-fruiting kind. At this time autumn-fruiting, i.e.primocane-fruiting, raspberries; were only just beginning to become popular.

Another change was that I could name my varieties after the ladies in the family rather than after Scottish Glens. My first success was Joan Squire. It can be described as a second early and its fruit suited most but not all market outlets. It came from a cross between my Australian collaborator`s selection and the unnamed summer-fruiting selection mentioned. It became a leading variety whose use peaked in 2002 and is now declining in the face of competition from newer varieties. Growers in Chile who export raspberries over long distances to North America reported that it was not quite good enough for this purpose, so I sent them my selection 941/3 from a cross between Joan Squire and Autumn Bliss, just for them to test how it traveled over long distances. The selection has many faults and I asked them not to report them because I know them all!

To my great surprise they think 941/3 is perfect and last year reported a production of 338 tons of it. I cannot visualise what 338 tons of raspberries look like. Maybe a small mountain?

A selection that came from my own cross between Autumn Bliss and Glen Moy is Terri-Louise. It has exceptional fruit size but poor shelf-life and was more useful as a parent than for commercial use. Crossing it with Joan Squire gave me JOAN J. JOAN J. clearly illustrates the different priorities of the supermarkets and the consumers. Its VERY EXCELLENT SIZE AND FLAVOUR make it a clear favourite with consumers as shown by big sales of plants to amateur gardeners and to non-supermarket suppliers. Thus recent annual sales have been 76,000 plants in the UK and 67,000in the USA. But the supermarkets feel that its slight tendency to darken when very ripe and a slightly weak skin strength reduce its shelf-life and they have all refused to accept it..."

From Fruit Forum Edited by Joan Morgan

Here is a link that might be useful: Fruit Forum

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Thank you for the great information Simon! I had forgotten about that site. A couple updates:

1.) It looks like Nourse now lists these as being thornless... just in case anyone questions my original posting.

2.) Joan J is among the largest berries that I have in my yard, (but I've also got them in an ideal location: full sun and well drained soil.) Now that we're further along in their harvest, still, all berries have been quite tasty. Can't wait until my bed fills out in the next year or two.

3.) There is a parallel thread going on here in case anyone is ever reading about Joan J. Link below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tell me how Joan J raspberries taste Plz

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Glad you found the info interesting Glenn. We've just bought a few canes to try and may try to prune them as explained below to get two crops!

Off the subject thread, but has anyone suggestions for raspberries in well draining alkaline soil [should be ideal conditions] but a shady aspect? We have a huge Cedar of Lebanon overhanging our veggie garden.


Here is a link that might be useful: two crops a season?

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Glen...Just got back from Iowa where I picked up 3 30X96 high tunnel greenhouses. Soon they will house 1/2 of the 1000 Joan J's we purchased from Nourse. We have not spoken to them yet about mixing the varieties...which we are considering...of course it will raise our cost per plant to do that. We may just stick with the Joan J's and order 1000 Carolines for the spring of 2010. When all is done we hope to have 30 total greenhouses all producing. Your berries look great and it is good to hear that they taste as good as they look.
Fruit Girl we are looking at road side stands and farmers we have spoken to the local farmers here, there are not enough growers in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho. We have a unique situation in the intermountain west that raspberries love...warm days and cool nights set the sugars in the berries up to be pure sweetness! We are not planning on shipping any berries at this point but we do want them to hold longer than a week in a cooler. We plan on keeping our operation as a family affair. Any suggestions or ideas are always welcome and appreciated.
Simon...I did alittle more research on Mr Jennings...again a very exciting and informative article. My wife has printed it and will keep it in our files for reference. Thanks again.

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

My first piece of advice will be to contact either Dan Barney (Idaho) or Brent Black (Utah). They're the extension fruit folks in those states and both would love to hear about a new raspberry grower in their area, Brent especially.

Anyway, I think the best thing for you to do will be to experiment with the different varieties and see what works best in your fairly unique environment. I'm fairly confident you'll have to stick with primocane fruiting types, because I don't think there are any floricane fruiting types that will survive your winters. I'm pretty sure Brent's been evaluating both floricane and primocane fruiting types, but in an area well south of you. It's definitely worth a shot to check with him, though.

The only potential problem I think you might have is planning to hold the berries in a cooler for a week. Joan J is probably the only cultivar available to you that MIGHT do this, but the other ones...
Driscoll's manages to do this with their cultivars, but they are light years ahead of all of the other breeding programs in this regard. Also, they pick fruit when it's underripe, which doesn't do the flavor any favors.

As to others who have suggested I try Joan J again, I have tried it more than one time, in different weather conditions, in different years, and each time, I found the flavor lacking. There's a waxy flavor to it that I find objectionable, but it's something my palate seems to be really sensitive to.

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

Hi MtnStan/all-

Now that the season is over, for me, I still have zero problems with the flavor. They still taste great to me, like all my raspberries do. But, the one thing I did notice was that the Joan J basal canes (on right) didnt seem to be as vigorous as, say for example, the Preludes (on the left). The 2 beds are as identical as I could make them for soil conditions and full sun (the 1st pic was taken at 6PM at night). I probably got 3 to 4 times more berries off the Preludes on the left than I did the Joan J. Im not sure if basal cane vigor/yield can be compared to eventual plant vigor/yield, but just figured Id give you all the info I had.
2008-10-13 Prelude And JoanJ

Sorry, not Joan J These are the Preludes in the adjacent bed. I thought Preludes were supposed to be a very early berry, so Im not sure why these were heavily fruiting in mid October.
2008-10-13 Prelude

Well see what next year brings.
P.S. In case you're wondering, it's a volleyball court, taken down for the winter.

RE: Are 'Joan J' raspberries thornless?

several (more than 4) years ago, i bought 5 JoanJ and 5 Heritage from Nourse.... 3 of each lived & THRIVED. Joan J i must say IS thornless & the EARLIEST (always raspberries by Father's Day). the flavor is quite GOOD (not waxy), and the berries are HUGE! they keep well and remain delicious, even when refrigerated. the Heritage berries are noticably smaller and about a month later. JoanJ also give a bumper 2nd crop, from late summer into Nov, depending on weather conditions. as far as recommending JoanJ? a heartbeat! prolific, spread like mad & produce well. the berries are HUGE! people would buy them ,-by sight alone

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