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2013 trailing blackberry report

Posted by scottfsmith 6B-7A-MD (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 8, 13 at 10:16

Heres my annual take on how various trailing blackberries have been doing. The background for those who missed previous reports is I am looking for a berry that tastes as good as Marionberry, my favorite blackberry, but can take the cold winters and hot/humid summers of Maryland. I have tested quite a few varieties over the years and found that most are either not hardy enough, or they stop growing and start looking sad once the heat of summer kicks in. Note that none of these are the standard east coast varieties, this is an experiment with western type berries in the east.

Past failures: Marionberry (not hardy), Loganberry (not hardy), Tayberry (didn't like flavor), Metolius (had no flavor), Cascade (not hardy/dislikes heat), Cascade Trailing (ditto), Wild Treasure (ditto).

This years data:

Black Diamond - Has a very "black" flavor like Marion, a good dark blackberry selection. When they are fully ripe they are a very good blackberry. They are not super sweet but the flavor is very good. It has been doing OK but not great as far as growing goes - better than many but they still shut down in the heat.

Kotata - Excellent as usual, sweet, rich and a bit of that clove aromatics of Logan. These berries have big drupes and are very soft when ripe - no good for commercial growing but great backyard fruits. Plants growing vigorously, but some of the ones from last year died back.

Siskiyou - Very similar to Kotata but larger. I also had a lot of dieback on these from the previous winter, partly due to lots of cane borer problems.

Boysenberry thorned - These have significantly less flavor than Kotata/Siskiyou. I had a couple dead ripe ones I could compare to Kotata ripe next plant over and the Kotata won hands down. Kotata is more sweet, more sour, more flavor. They are relatively easy growers and I will give them another year or two but they are not in my top category.

NZ 9671-1 - Not enough fruits for a good evaluation. It has more blackberry flavor in it than the Kotata et al. Berries are not developing good uniform shape or size. This plant is also not a good grower, it is too unhappy in the heat. Hardiness is OK. Heading to reject pile I expect.

Newberry - This is a very "fruity" berry with more true raspberry overtones than these hybrids usually have. Doesn't have the darker blackberry flavors even though it ripens to a darker color than Boysen/Kotata. Growth seems OK, similar to the other ones that are hanging in there. definitely a keeper.

Orus 1431-1 - Somewhat similar to Black Diamond in that its a black berry with good flavor but not a lot of sweetness. Seemed a bit better than BD in the flavor category. This guy seems to shut down on growing in the heat, the leaves curl up.

NZ 9351-4
Obsidian
Onyx
- no berries on any of these guys; they are not growing well enough to even fruit. Along with not taking the heat these guys all have hardiness issues (and they could be related, weak plants have a hard time making it through the winter). Almost certainly they will be rejects.

Overall, Kotata/Siskiyou/Orus 1431-1/Newberry all seem to be doing good enough to keep. They are not super happy with the heat but I expect I can keep a good stand of them going over the years - if they fail one year they still come back well the next. Black Diamond seems a touch down in terms of vigor. Boysen is in the top vigor category with the four above, but is not as flavorful. The rest are probably history.

Oh, my Triple Crown have not come in yet but thats my favorite "eastern" blackberry. U Ark. has a new one, Osage, that sounds like it will be worth trying out.

Scott


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Scott, is the 'Black Diamond' thornless? thanks


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Yes; thats a definite plus for it. The 1431-1 is also thornless but its hard to find. The other ones I liked are all thorny.

Scott

This post was edited by scottfsmith on Mon, Jul 8, 13 at 10:53


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Ditto on the thorned boysenberry. It is incredibly vigorous here in California but lacks flavor IMO.

I don't have frost issues here so I can't comment on hardiness, but I can provide input on flavor.

Siskiyou has great flavor.

Ollalie is a winner for me. Sour up until dead ripe, then has very complex and sweet flavor.

Tripple crown has that grocery store blackberry taste, with the volume turned up so to speak. Can be picked less ripe than the other varieties I have. Not as sour when ripe.

Black satin has a very gentle flavor, much less acid than the others, but still flavorful.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 8, 13 at 11:45

I had three thornless: Black Diamond, Black Pearl, and Wild Treasure. I think I'm right on that. Got rid of them when having back issues and regret it now. I really liked the fruit of Diamond and Pearl.

If my memory serves me right I think it was Black Diamond that had a dwarf character to it's growth. The growth was very robust but it grew at a small fraction of the growth rate of Black Pearl and even less compared to Wild Treasure. Treasure had thin canes and wild growth. I much preferred the growth on Black Diamond.

Scott does that sound at all like the growth character of your Black Diamond?

Black Diamond...I think. It circled a couple times.

 photo blackberry002.jpg

Wild Treasure on lower right. Canes circled many times and then shot out all those small shoots after tipping. Black Pearl had an intermediate growth rate.

 photo blackberry003.jpg

This post was edited by fruitnut on Mon, Jul 8, 13 at 12:15


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Yup that sounds like Black Diamond, fruitnut. I am surprised the Wild Treasure was vigorous for you, I thought you had more heat there than I have. Maybe your humidity is lower? My WT plants would grow fast in cool weather but shut down for most of the summer. BD just chugs along, never fast.

Oh I realized I left another failure off my list above, Black Pearl was not hardy. I never tried Ollalie or Black Satin, I think they were rated poorly in hardiness.

Scott


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 8, 13 at 16:00

Scott:

Maybe your blackberries are shutting down because of lower water not the heat. The heat in my greenhouse should be similar to yours, ave ~ 92/64 in summer. Mine grew all summer as long as they had water and some nitrogen. And that was in pots where growth should be less.

I'm going to get Black Diamond again. I liked the fruit about as well as anything. The slow growth and lack of thorns are pluses for me.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Thanks for your report Scott, excellent as always. Black Diamond is on my list for next year.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Trailing Berry Update.

Marionberry - easily the best tasting berry of the group and consistent in flavor. Last year these were all potted but I have two in the ground and will cover them up this year. Those in the ground are very vigorous growers. Small crops from all three plants but ripe berries had a consistently excellent flavor. Purchased two additional plants. An additional issue to hardiness is that the canes are brittle, and easily damaged. This can be especially problematic because there are fewer canes but they grow really long. I have a 12ft cane on one plant and I’m worried that it’s going to break somewhere near the bottom and lose all of that growth. Definitely worth protecting over winter.

Black Diamond - planted in the ground this spring but over wintered in a pot last year. Small, non-vigorous plant but high berry density given the plant size. Berries didn’t have much flavor even when dead ripe. Will protect this year and try it again next year. Single cane this year is all I have to work with.

Silvan - inconsistent flavor and berries were soft and hard to remove without squishing them. When ripe, nice flavor, somewhat similar to marionberries. Earliest ripening of the trailing berries by a few days. Was potted over winter and will stay potted for this year. Slightly thornier than average.

Wild Treasure - inconsistent flavor. Plant produced a lot of small but aromatic berries and the plant was very vigorous. The first bunch of ripe berries were reminiscent of marionberries but the remainder where just plain bad. I finally just left them to the birds. They tasted like what stink bug smells like - yuck! The cane growth this year is very good. The potted one from last year has several canes of 10ft and the tip rooted clone (it’s planted in the ground) is about 6ft long. I’m keeping one potted and overwintering it. These were also early producers being a few days behind Silvan.

Loganberry - first couple were tasted like a raspberry but the last several had a bad flavor kind of like a stink bug again. I used the same potting mix on this one and Wild Treasure so maybe a connection. Much like everyone says about productivity, my Logan only produced about a dozen berries this year. The plant growth is actually moderately vigorous. Have one that will remain potted and several that were just planted this year and will be covered for the winter. Hoping for a better showing next year.

Boysenberry (Thorny) - I had high hopes based on other's feedback but only had a few berries due to a late planting last year and their flavor was not that strong; more like a raspberry in flavor. I’m kind of expecting the flavor to be more robust as the plant gets established. I have five planted and a couple in pots. The planted ones from last year have exploded in growth and are now a nearly a tangled mass. Will cover most of the planted ones during the winter but may leave one uncovered just to see what happens to it.

Boysenberry (Thornless) - Similar to the thorny version but less robust in growth with very little flavor. Decided to remove the planting because there really wasn’t a reason to keep it. Boysens seem highly susceptible to anthracnose, which has been a constant struggle to contain. Could also be my plant source too.

Obsidian - no berries due to spring planting but cane growth is moderate. Seems to have crinkled leaves, not sure if this is the same thing that was happening to Scott’s.

Kotata - Planted last fall and moderately vigorous growers. Were over wintered in pots and protected. Planted in ground this spring and will cover for protection during the next winter. Thorniest blackberry plants that I have. I have a couple of blooms and maybe a few berries in month. The additional plants ordered from BRN were the wrong variety and appear to be some erect variety.

I have Prime-Ark 45 and Kiowa ripening now and the Triple Crowns seem to be several weeks away from ripening. For comparison, the Prime Arks are better tasting than all of the above except for Marions. This may be a reflection of my climate.

So a few considerations regarding my flavor ratings above:

- Climate - a cold, wet spring and early summer with less than normal sunshine. In just 2 days of sunshine my non-trailing berries taste much better.

- My general inexperience with these plantings could have affected the flavor. Bad potting mixes and/or fertilizers.

- Something else ...???


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 8, 13 at 19:49

Sometimes they taste like stinkbugs because that's what's been feeding on them.

Marionberry didn't stand out for flavor in my planting. The three thornless were just as good or better. Maybe it's a climate or sunshine thing. We have sun nearly everyday.


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Do you think I can grow Marionberries in my zone 6-b/7-a? Would love to taste them.

That is another excellent report. This will be the first summer I will have enough 'Ouachita' thornless blackberries for a pie. Having not tasted them yet, I am so sorry I planted them. They have never gotten a good review here. I'll let you know they are still green.


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MrsG47,

Regarding marionberries, you could grow them in a large nursery pot (10 gal.) and move them in doors when the temps fall below 20F. If you grow them outside, you would need to cover them up during the colder parts of the winter. So far, they have been very resistant to disease and hot weather.

I planted 5 Ouachita late last year and they are growing really well although I won't have any berries this year. I'm holding out hope that they taste better than expected. In most ratings, Prime Ark 45 is rated only as "good" and Ouachita is rated "very good" to "excellent". The prime ark 45's I'm getting now are tasting pretty good now that I'm finally getting some sunshine.

I'm also hoping that Triple Crown tastes as good as reported. I have 7 of those that are full of green berries.


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Black Diamond was developed for ease of commercial harvest with very short fruiting stems and an open habit, rather than dense, branching growth. Long season. Does not compete well among other caneberries--give it room. Prickly the first foot but thornless thereafter. Mine have very good flavor. Some canes have reached 15 feet. Easy to train.

The first fruitnut photo is Black Diamond.


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Fruitnut, its been a near-constant downpour this summer and they are doing the slo-mo thing already. I will make sure to water them in the dry periods and see if that helps. Your soil and water are probably optimal so that could make up for the rough climate.

Mrs G, I grew Marion covered for several years, it works well. I have too little time to cover anything anymore though.

Scott


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Wont have my readiness report till at least August :) Currently have Boysen (thorny), Chester,TC, Prime Ark, Prime Jan and Logan. Boysen's will be the first to ripen as they are starting to turn with the sun coming out full force here in the last week. 90's mainly. Chesters are a very prodigous producer and will be used for baking/wine. Ill get a full report when season gets a little bit further along.

Looking to try out Osage and Loch Ness next year on a trial basis and see about maybe replacing one of my beds with them if they are winners in this Climate.

LOCH-NESS ® Thornless, SEMI-ERECT, is a patented variety from the National Seed Development Organization in Scotland. Loch Ness should become one of the very best all time thorn less blackberries for the home garden. Unlike many other types of blackberries, Loch Ness does not produce thorny canes from root system . Loch Ness is truly thorn less. It is extremely productive. Loch Ness has similar genealogy to Black Satin, Hull, but Loch Ness is a much better tasting berry and has real gourmet quality. Canada’s top small fruit specialist has tested Loch Ness at British Columbia Abbotsford Fruit Testing Station and gives it the highest rating for a berry of this type. Zone 5-8


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It usually doesn't get below ten degrees F here. Don't think I have to cover anything? Hmmmmm


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Thanks for the reports Scott appreciate them. Especially on the hardiness of certain cultivars :)


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Thanks for your info about Loch-Ness ABz5b.It looks like one to try later. Brady


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Mrs G, it also usually doesn't get below 10F here. I grew them without covering for two years and they died back. The hardiness numbers on the trailing blackberries are not very accurate. You can always try without covering, the worst that can happen is you get set back a year.

AB, I didn't supply as much hardiness data as I had in the above. The borers had weakened many canes so I could not tell for sure if it was the winter or the borers that caused some canes to die. Still, I did make some guesses and I put Boysen and Black Diamond in the most hardy category, Obsidian, 1431-1, Kotata, Siskiyou a notch down from those, and the rest less hardy.

Loch Ness was only rated fair in the U Oregon blackberry cultivars report so I passed on it but the ratings there are not always accurate.

Scott


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Raintree calls Loch Ness richly tart. It does sound interesting but usually when a nursery admits something is tart it's really tart. Being thornless though I may have to try this one. They also say highly productive and monstrously large fruit.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Scott, so in our whereabouts where the summers heat up, what do you figure the optimal hours of sun are for trailing blackberries?


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Thanks Scott, until reading your review, I really had no idea the difference between trailing and up-right blackberries were so different. I'll stick with Black Diamond for next year.


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The hottest sun is always the best to avoid - noon to 2PM or so. Of course its hard to avoid just that. Morning sun is better than afternoon. My patch is shaded later in the afternoon.

I am starting to think the soil also may be an issue for these more sensitive berries. Blackberries I usually just plant directly, and top dress with compost. Raspberries I treat like veggies, I till a lot of compost into the soil before planting. I have one row of blackberries that I tilled in a lot of organics on (I started raspberries there and switched) and those guys are doing better.

Scott


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I would think one needs an established plant at least 3 years old, 5 years would be better to judge. Although ones that show promise early are worth looking into. Like some peaches, sometimes a few years growth makes a difference. If plant is not producing well because of young age, it may not be fair to evaluate it. Also some that taste good now, might lose vigor and taste with time. I noticed in some trials of wyeberry that in the 1st year productivity was low. But reading about 5 year old plants, they produced tremendous amounts.
I'm interested in Navaho because of the upright nature, supposedly the best tasting upright and certainly winter hardy. Also one can display this on a trellis as a fan, so has ornamental value too. Sounds like a winner to me. I planted one this year.
Thanks for this report, it certainly points me to good berries if I need to replace any of my current plants.


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Since my trailing blackberries were all potted last year, I would give them full sun (8:00AM - 8:00PM) and that did not seem to bother them. With that said, the pots they were in would dry out quickly in the sun and required frequent watering. As long as I watered them, they did fine in my climate (around Cincinnati) in full sun. My raspberries seem to be the exception and appreciate partial shade / less sun.


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It's interesting that more than one of you have reported some sort of leaf-curl on the Obsidian. I planted one this year in the spring and it has done nothing but produce some weird curled leaves. It doesn't look healthy at all. I've sprayed for pests and the nearby boysenberries, loganberries, black diamond, black satin, doyle, chester, triple crown, etc do no have any curls at all. You'd think a pest would attack the other plants right near by as well, wouldn't you?


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I bought 2 Obsidian earlier this year from Raintree in 4" inch pots and planted them in the ground. They started off with normal leaves but then started sprouting leaves that were crinkled and that continues today. Mine are both growing reasonably well otherwise. I have about 4 canes on each plant and the canes are somewhere between 3-4 ft in length. Obsidian are the only variety that does this in my diverse berry patch. It could be environmental but I think it is more likely a virus. It is my understanding that not all viruses are potentially damaging by themselves. Sometimes they create the pathway for other infections to occur. I had both wild blackberries and wild black raspberries in the vicinity prior to developing the berry patch so it could have come from there too.


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A quick look online to match what I'm seeing on my Obsidian blackberries landed me on this page: http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/berrytool/raspberry/leavesstems/Raspcurling.htm

The picture most similar to the leaves on my plants are #3 Blackberry psyllid caused curling. I'm not sure my leaved are curled this badly but close. So maybe it isn't a virus...


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Are you seeing any white bugs? Do you have evergreens around? I'm wondering if I have BP on my TC (see aphid thread)?

Here is a link that might be useful: White bugs, curling leaves on TCB


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The 2 Obsidian blackberries do not sit side-by-side and they are located near the middle of the row, with a row of brambles on each side of them. No other plants in the whole berry patch, 7 rows, has similar symptoms. There is one evergreen, a spruce, about 100ft away, but that's the only evergreen around. Everything else is deciduous.


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I don't think its a pest, all my Obsidian did that curled leaf thing. Either its a virus that got into a major stock producer or its something in the genes of the plant which shows up in some climates. Either way it really limited how well the plants have done for me. I have one three-year plant left thats about 3" tall now. Not 3', 3".

Scott


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That's not promising. On a slightly different topic, I noticed a couple of advanced selections ‘ORUS 2711-1’ and ‘ORUS 2635-1’ that are an interspecific hybrid between eastern and western blackberries. Could they be a hardier blackberry with trailing berry flavor? Nor Cal had samples last year. Do you have to be professional grower to get samples?


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jtburton's description of the Obsidian is identical to mine (including the picture on the link). I bought mine at Lowe's (don't hate me, people). None of my other plants have the problem even though they are all in very close proximity.

Should I just pull the thing now and plant something else? The plant looks generally terrible.


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Getting the experimental varieties is not easy. I had to buy 50 of four varieties to get some of the ones I tried; the limit is usually a lot higher since its for commercial plantings only. I bought from Northwest Plants. Some places occasionally have samples, I got the 1431-1 from someone who picked it up retail at Sakuma market I believe. Sakuma and NorCal are the same people. The experimental varieties are often not listed on the website, you need to call to find out what they have. The two above and North American Plants are three of the bigger western tissue culture outfits. If you find a source let me know :-) I'm also looking for Osage, Berries Unlimited sold out of it before I noticed they had it. I expect they get their tissue cultures from North American Plants, the variety overlap is about perfect.

Scott


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San Jose, CA (all plants are 2-3 years old)

In order of preference:

Marionberry - best tasting hands down (wife agrees), very complex flavor

Olallieberry - tart until dead ripe, but when it's ripe it's only a little below the flavor of Marion

Black Satin - I had heard this was a "cooking" variety but the berries are great out of hand. Has a more classic taste than the above. Bonus (no thorns!)

Boysen (thorny) - The berries hardened and shriveled as they were ripening. Only one of my berries to do this, wish I had gotten to try some

Triple Crown - first year getting berries from it, they are good, but not at the level of the above berries. No thorns :)

Upright:

Prime Jim/Jan/Ark-45 - Vigorous, upright growth, pretty good berries, nasty thorns

Natchez - pretty good berry, upright and thornless

Ouachita, Navaho, Arapaho - better than supermarket blackberries, but that isn't saying much. Upright and thornless though.


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My Raintree Obsidian planted May 2013 is doing the same thing; good growth the first two feet and then newer leaves deformed and cane tip looks stunted. Would have coincided with a heat spell, FWIW. Other nearby varieties unaffected.

The white bugs referred to above are probably psyllids.


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  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 0:29

I've seen the same curling (probably Blackberry Psyllid) this year on a potted Kiowa and last year on some Triple Crown.

My very preliminary report:

Boysenberry (thorny)- Last year they were my favorite berry. This year, they have to be almost dead ripe to be palatable. Even then, my wife and kids have rejected them as "way too sour". I'm guessing the early warm spring made a big difference last year. This year, the colder weather and rain only delayed the first ripe berries by about a week (around July 1st this year), but the sweetness just wasn't there.

Kiowa (2nd year, potted)- Only one berry so far, but it was huge and tasty. I'm looking forward to the rest.

Ouachita- Had the first one today and it was better than I remember them last year. It didn't have the sour/off flavor. We'll see how the rest do.

Prime Jan- They are just starting to ripen. Most of the ripe ones have a lot of white druplets from sun scald.

Marion (2nd year, potted)- One berry so far and it was the best of the year. Sweet with plenty of flavor.

Apache, Natchez, and Triple Crown are not yet ripe.


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Bob - I picked the leaves (only 3) off the 1 cane affected, I will have to scout to make sure there aren't more. Some leaves are curled at the bottom but the tip is OK, I actually wonder if those 3 would have been fine once they got a little larger. But definitely had insects in the canes, don't see them now since a brief but heavy T-storm night before last.

But since you've had them, can you tell me what to do for control and when? I found a few websites that said Surround, but didn't say when to apply.

Sorry to hijack, please if anyone has any suggestions post them on the other thread. Thanks


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Bob, I am pretty sure my Obsidian did not have psyllid on them, I inspected them and found no signs of bugs. I have dealt with psyllids on other plants so I should have been able to notice it. ajs mama, I'll stick a note on your thread on how I dealt with them.

Thanks for your report. Maybe it was a bad year for the Boysens; it was my first year for them but I will give them another. Kiowa and Siskiyou have been reliably good every year for me.

Scott


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  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 11:18

Sorry Scott- I didn't mean to imply that you or the other posters had psyllid, just that I had it (I've seen signs of insects). There are so many posters who have the leaf curl on just Obsidian, it seems to be inherent to the variety. Or, as was mentioned, a virus that got propagated. If you hadn't said that yours were clean of insect signs, I would have suggested that psyllid just found it particularly tasty.

Regarding Boysenberry, I'm a bit worried that last year was an outlier, as the weather was quite unusual here and this year's spring was much more normal. I'm guessing ABz5B will have a better luck with them, as he should get a lot more sun in Arizona. Even so, I'm definitely giving them another shot based on last year. If they are like this next year, I'll try them in Jam.


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I have an addendum to the above report, I was not getting any fully ripe Newberries since the birds were going after them. I decided to put some bags on a few berries to taste some really ripe ones.. they are incredible! They are sweeter and richer flavored than any of the others. They are part raspberry so don't taste like classic blackberry, they have their own unique flavor not exactly like any berry I have tasted. Definitely worth checking out. I think Raintree is selling them now.

Scott


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After reading several of these forum blackberry reports over the years, there must be a lot of quality difference in any one variety per growing conditions.

Just U-picked some Boysens yesterday near Oregon City and they are very flavorful--and they likely would be if grown in my garden 20 miles distant.

So everybody gets to try several varieties and see what works best for them.


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Im starting to think the same thing. Boysenberries in my area are phenomenal better than Marionberry which isn't hardy enough for my area. Always used to get them from Oregon when i drove through there each year. Different combinations of humidity/Sun and temp must play a fairly decent role in determining flavors in each variety. Guess that's why i trial all sorts of berries that never make it in to my final patch. Work in progress and that is part of the fun i guess :)


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Until recently east and west coast varieties were almost all different -- strawberries, raspberries, blackberries. This is the root of why, even if they grow and produce berries the flavor can be very different. One west coast blackberry that was particularly bad for me was Metolius, it had no flavor at all. I am sure that one is a lot better in Oregon or it never would have been released.

Scott


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I agree for sure regional difference exist. But all are worth trying because some west coast varieties could also turn out to be better here. Especially with plants that originated from eastern zones in the first place.
Something I'm seeing is how much better my plants in raised beds are doing compared to those that are not. For my environment raised beds are the way to go. My blackberries are in the ground, and although growing, are growing a lot slower than the raspberries in the raised beds. And it's not the soil, as the ground was heavily amended a year in advance.
I'm thinking of ripping out the blackberries and putting a raised bed there. My wife would kill me, but I'm wearing her down. Also the added benefit of controlling the spread, my dog tending to want to water them, and a more defined border making it easier to cut the grass. I guess in the fall while dormant would be the time to move them and replant them. Not to mention in looks more landscaped, and not as scattered looking.


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Obsidian. I checked both my Obsidian plants and they are growing despite having crinkled leaves. Long-term this may do them in but for now they are still OK.

Newberry. I love trying new berry plants but I'm reaching my max on plants. I had ordered a couple of Siskiyou and a couple of Black Satin to try a couple of weeks ago and that will have to be it for this year. I'm going to have to wait on the Newberries until something else dies or is pulled. I figure that next spring I'll have some vacancies.

Flavors. I found a bountiful patch of ripe wild blackberries and sampled those to get a baseline for blackberry flavor again. The overall taste is in line with my Eastern berries (Kiowa and Ark45). I also ate one my last marionberries and can confirm that they have the best taste for me so far. Whether ripe or slightly under ripe, they possess such a full flavor.

Sunlight. I can tell a difference in my Ark45 berries flavor when they ripen over a week with a lot of sunshine. They are sweeter and have a fuller flavor. Last year we had record highs but a lot of sunshine. This year is has been less sunshine and more rain. I would place a guess that some varieties are highly sensitive to changes in sunlight during ripening.


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BB List:

Boyseberry thorny grows in partial shade, afternoon sun, three years old, lots of canes and leaves, never had a berry.

Boysenberrt thornless, grows in partial shade, morning sun, three years old, handful of canes, had berries that were ok nothing to write home about.

Loganberry thornless, grows in partial shade, morning sun, two canes, a handful of berries that dried out due to weird heat wave. I tasted only a few out of about a dozen. They were good but last year I grew them in the front yard with morning and afternoon sun and they were delicious, my favorite when compared to Triple Crown which grew next to it. I was able to pick fruit for several weeks around May to June.

Triple Crown, partial shade, morning sun, some berries but grows vigorously. Last year had them in front as they are in pots, and had lots of very nice and tasty berries. They were my second favorite last year, not this year.

Natchez thornless, partial shade, morning sun, grows nice and thick cane but only had a few berries which are my least favorite. But I have never moved them into full sun.

Ouchita thornless, partial and morning sun in backyard had no berries. Morning and some afternoon sun in front yard, growing in very large container, six canes, two plants, grew onto roof and loved the all day sun there. These were this year's favorite. They had nice large and sweet fruit for maybe five weeks.I had fruit every few days.

There is a huge Mulberry tree shading my backyard and a few trees next to my front yard. After moving plants around, I learned that the sun makes the difference in taste. Also, the planter size also made a difference.

I also make various composts- Bokashi and Vermicompost. I add the worms with a few handfuls of compost into the soild under the mulch and add Bokashi tea every once in awhile.

The only blackberry plant that has died on me so far is the Black Satin. It was vigorous when I got it but it might have been sensitive to overwatering during the heat of the summer. I am in Zone 8a-9, Sacramento, CA.

I have been eyeing the Wild Treasure but now I am not so certain as I see the not so great results. I am looking for a trailing. I might have to settle for Marion if I cannot get a good one to add to my collection. My neighbor plans to cut down four trees in her front yard. So... if/when she does that, I can get some more blackberry fruiting in the front. So, I a making my wish list.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

It looks like Newberry will be my next bramble choice.Thanks Scott.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Obsidian growers. I noticed a picture of a test plot of Obsidian being grown in North Carolina in this presentation: http://www.vsuag.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/VA_STATE_2013.pdf

In the picture, the Obsidian appear to share a similar growth pattern with curled leaves as we had discussed. It might be interesting to check in with their program to see what they have observed.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

jtburton,

Great find! That looks EXACTLY like my Obsidian. It doesn't look healthy to me at all. Could they really be productive and normal otherwise? Who should we contact in Oregon about the Obsidian and the weird leaf curl it does?


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Chad Finn might respond to an email, most breeders tend to ignore emails but I have heard back from him.

I read the original paper on Obsidian (see below) and there was no mention of leaf curl. So its either a virus or something that happens to it in hotter climates than it was tested in.

I got my last few 1431-1's this morning, they are excellent and very close if not equal to Marion in quality. The plant is very short and bushy compared to other cultivars, making it more compact and probably more friendly for backyard growers. It also doesn't like the heat very much but on the plus side it gets no leaf spotting at all.

Scott

Here is a link that might be useful: Obsidian paper


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Scott,
I read that you no longer grow triple crown, but that you have in the past.
Can you tell me the ripening order of boysenberry versus newberry versus triple crown?
Thanks.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Isoh, Boysen comes first, it was 2-3 weeks ago. Newberry is a week or so later than Boysen; there is some overlap. My Triple Crown are now pink so they won't be ripe for a couple more weeks. I do still have a few plants, I pulled up the bed but a couple sprouts came up and I kept them.

Scott


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

I had my first few triple crown this week and they are noticeably sweeter than my other eastern varieties and I haven't even let them get that ripe. The first day they turned black, I ate them. I was surprised that they sweeten that quick. They aren't as flavorful as the marion but they are sweeter.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

The research station here offers this contact link:

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/employee/shelley-hughes


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 29, 13 at 1:04

An update to my earlier report:

Triple Crown- I planted TC 4 years ago and this by far the best year. Part of it may be better pruning, as I tipped them early in the summer, then hacked them back pretty hard late last summer. In fact, it almost looked like a line of small fruit trees, rather than the impenetrable mess from previous years. This year, production is huge, far exceeding any other berry. The berries themselves are also huge and have great flavor.

Apache- Planted 3 years ago, the berry size is almost up to the TC. But while they are also sweet, the flavor of Apache isn't strong. It's not bad, but when comparing the two TC is the winner.

I tried measuring their brix and both seem to be in the 8.5-10 range, with TC slightly higher. It's difficult to measure, as the reading doesn't show up well. It may be that the juice is too dark to let enough light through...

Ouachita- Planted 3 years ago. Above I mentioned that the early berries didn't have the sour/off flavor. While true, they also don't get the super-sweet and flavorful quality that TC had this year. The berries are also smaller. I'll probably keep it another year

Prime Jan- I cut most of the canes to the ground this spring to focus on the fall crop. Next year, I'll cut them all to the ground, as the berry quality just can't compete. But, as I found out last year, the late-season primocanes are nice to have when no other blackberries are ripe.

The pic below are Triple Crown berries I picked earlier today.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

I've been enjoying following this thread. My thorny boysen tasted good this year, nicely juicy/staining, medium to small seed amount. Not as spectacular as I had hoped in terms of flavor, but very good considering it's its first year. The few marionberry got snatched by critters.

My Kiowa were 75% of crop too sour, 25% mild/little flavor, 25% perfect sweet-tart balance for a blackberry. I don't think it was always because of stage of ripeness... just seems inconsistent in general. Large and plump as heck, medium to small seed amount considering size of fruit.

My Triple Crown I got from Nourse Farms is fruiting a bunch this year--but they are way smaller fruit than I thought... do they get bigger with time or did I get some mislabeled canes? Not enough of these ripe yet to report on em.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

PersianMD2Orchard,

This is the first year for my triple crowns. They are huge. Sincerely the largest blackberries I've ever seen. My neighbor was unsure the were even blackberries because of their size. I'd estimate 4x the size of the typical blackberry in the grocery store. The photo above your post looks right compared to my berries.

Can't comment on taste. Mine aren't ripe yet.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 30, 13 at 1:50

While I've had huge berries this year, I had much smaller berries last year and the year before. As I said above, I think it was the pruning which made a difference...Or at least I hope so, as I can reproduce the pruning, but reproducing the weather is tougher.

Here's a pic from last year. I don't remember for sure which berry is which (I should have kept better notes), but I think it is (from the left): Triple Crown, Ouachita, and Prime Jan. Assuming the order is right, 11 berries took 2X the space as 14 berries from last year. And if the order isn't right, the ratio is even higher, as the others are even smaller.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

bob_z6,
Could you elaborate on your prunning approach? Thanks

PersianMD2Orchard ,
Bob_z6 could be right about weather influences. We've had record amounts of rain and extreme heat. On the down side, a significant percentage of my berries suffer from what appears to be white drupelet disorder.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Although this is the first fruiting year for my blackberries, I have noticed that weather has been impactful to both production and the quality of the fruit. The most recent example is my Triple Crown blackberries. They started ripening about 3 weeks ago and as soon as the berries started turning black they became sweet. Fast forward a couple of weeks, now I have to let the TC berries ripen several days before they become sweet. Unfortunately by waiting several days after they turn black, the birds usually get to them first. That’s a whole different production issue… ugh.

I don’t have multiple years to compare but this year’s weather and temperatures have been very unusual. The temperatures have been relatively cool with only a 5-day period of the normal 90F+ summer heat. There has been less sunshine than usual and the rain fall has been higher than average and generally consistent all year long. It’s July 30th and my yard is emerald green, just like in the spring and has been that way all year - I don’t ever recall that happening before.

I did originally cover my TC’s with shade cloth fearing berry sunburn but I that never materialized. Some of the first batch of TC’s had dry druplets but I think that was due to an abundance of anthracnose in the berry patch. Nearly everything has it this year due to the damp, cool weather. When the shade cloth was damp, it made contact with some of the berries and this apparently caused the dry druplets, at least that’s my theory. Once I removed the shade cloth, the dry druplets stopped occurring on the berries and I have not seen any wide spread sunburn yet on the TC’s, which are about a week away from being completely exhausted of fruit.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 30, 13 at 23:42

lsoh,

When I first planted Triple Crown in 2010, I wasn't very attentive and they tip-rooted like crazy. I cleared up the mess, transplanting the tip-roots to another part of the yard, which has become productive this year.

In 2011, I was careful to make sure they didn't get to tip-root any more, by winding the canes back and forth between the 2 top wires (about 5' high), tying them often with string. Some canes were 20-30' long and it was a very dense mess. That fall, there was a Halloween ice-storm (while the plants were in full leaf), which added too much weight and collapsed the trellis.

I left it down for the winter and was able to get it (mostly) back up the next spring with some rope and my father's help (one person pulls, the other ties the rope). There were a lot of flowers and I was expecting a huge harvest. I actually got very little. I think wildlife got plenty, as it was a nice cozy place to hide (I chased some squirrels and birds out). The berries which were left were pretty small compared to this year.

In 2012, I was watchful and every time the plants got to be ~5.5-6' tall, I would take off the tip (2-3"). Anytime a lateral would get more than a few feet long, I would tip it too. This would leave a sturdy trunk, covered with ~2' long branches, almost like a dwarf fruit tree. Then, in late August, I cleared out all the spent floricanes and made sure there were no droopy primocanes. The below picture was taken when I was just about done pruning, late in the afternoon on 8/26. You can see 3 big piles of prunings, 2 on the near side and one on the far. By the end, I could finally see right through the row. The process was actually easier than the previous method, in that I didn't tie anything down- if it didn't stand relatively straight (possibly with a bit of help by laterals hanging on the wire), I cut it out.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Thanks guys for all the pruning info and tips. I will definitely give it a try.

How does heat and water affect blackberry sweetness? We get enough rain for pretty much any fruit to not be watered almost at all here in northern VA IMO so I followed suit with blackberries thinking to not dilute the flavor but perhaps they got heat stressed and couldn't produce the sugar?

What is the ideal sun/water/heat situation for blackberries to sweeten up? It sounds like a balancing act--some say full sun gives you sweeter berries--but you can also bother these plants with too much heat it seems--unless perhaps you water em a tad more generously than other fruit types during heat even when they are fruiting?

I had very inconsistent flavor in all my blackberries this season and I was picking them all at different times(99% black with 1% red, then 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 days after turning all black--some dropping very off easily, some gentle tug, some yank off, experimented with stage)...-- couldn't find any trend at all actually on ripeness level and sweetness. Perhaps they dull up the flavor if left too long and the heat/water is a bigger factor?

I have so many different types of spots in my yard I feel like if I understood the brix biology more of blackberry I could move them out to a better spot for them. Currently I'd say they are in 6-7 hrs of sun 8am-3pm with about zero water added. I think my current plan is to prune them, water them a tad more, and transplant some to 4.5 hrs of sun. And experiment again with picking at different times...


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Every year, within the last several, the weather seems extreme. In 2011, in greater Cincinnati, we set a new annual rainfall record with over 73 inches of rain. In 2012 we set new heat records and had a drought. In 2013, cool temperatures and persistent rain has kept yards green all summer. So it's hard to find "normal" weather lately. In my short time growing blackberries, the flavors seem to improve with more sunshine, especially consecutive sunny days the week before the fruit ripens. As a prerequisite though, you need to have adequate plant food and water available, otherwise you probably will not get good fruit production (equals less berries).

As for day length of direct sunshine, my plants get direct sunshine from about 11:00am through 6:00pm. I have had several plants in containers receiving less sunshine, and pretty much those berries tasted uniformly poor. Raspberries or wineberries might be able to provide sweet berries with only partial-sun but probably not blackberries.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Every year, within the last several, the weather seems extreme. In 2011, in greater Cincinnati, we set a new annual rainfall record with over 73 inches of rain. In 2012 we set new heat records and had a drought. In 2013, cool temperatures and persistent rain has kept yards green all summer. So it's hard to find "normal" weather lately. In my short time growing blackberries, the flavors seem to improve with more sunshine, especially consecutive sunny days the week before the fruit ripens. As a prerequisite though, you need to have adequate plant food and water available, otherwise you probably will not get good fruit production (equals less berries).

As for day length of direct sunshine, my plants get direct sunshine from about 11:00am through 6:00pm. I have had several plants in containers receiving less sunshine, and pretty much those berries tasted uniformly poor. Raspberries or wineberries might be able to provide sweet berries with only partial-sun but probably not blackberries.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

I'm noticing my Obsidian is going in and out of weird leaf phase; a foot of cane looks OK, followed by an odd leaf stretch and back to near-normal leaves. Overall growth is slow--moderate.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Both of my plants still sprout the stunted leaves but they keep growing. I have canes that are 8-10ft in length now but with few leaves. I wonder if they will be able to bear fruit next year without enough leaf area, assuming they survive over wintering.The marions nearby are growing about a foot a week.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

I'm planning to make a trellis this year in preparation for Triple Crown Blackberries in the spring.
I have 10' t steel posts in the ground already. My dad drilled holes through them instead of trying to use those whimpy hinges. So now I can run wire through the steel posts and possibly use a buckle to tighten when i need to.
Question and help?
Not sure if I should set up just 2 wire system like most grapevine trellis or set up a t-bar on top to run more laterals. I need pictures from people that have lots of experience with their blackberry trellis. I only want to do this once!

My existing trellis also has a 12 gauge wire holding the two outside posts taunt on a huge hook and drilled into the ground with an auger on an angle.

Can anyone provide pictures?
How hight should my trellis be for this variety?
thanks

Karina


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

karinasgarden,

Glenn Russell, an experienced and helpful grower, has contributed trellis information here in the past. I haven't seen him post in a while, so I think he's busy elsewhere. But may I suggest his website that includes a write up on his trellises.
http://glennandkathyrussell.blogspot.com/
When he was active on this board, he answered questions about his trellises. You might try searching for Glenn's gardenweb trellis posts using google. Go to google.com. In the search box type
site:gardenweb.com Glenn_russell trellis
(The gardenweb search feature doesn't work very well. It seems to limit to the most recent year's posts.)


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

I used electrical conduit poles. Drilled holes.,used a grape trellis wire tightener to keep wires slack free. I put one wire at 3 ft and one at 5 ft. Seems with Triple Crown I put most of the canes on the 5 foot wire. It's growing like crazy. The 3 foot wire was handy for slower growers to keep canes off the ground. To add more cultivars I ran some lines between a clothes line pole and my grape trellis post. The triple crown is there. It can grow way past 8 ft. I cut them down, the laterals went crazy, Hard to control as canes are semi-erect, which means they are stiff, and do not want to go where I want. i have snapped a couple trying to train. It's a beast! With trailing types it's easier to weave canes between wires, but with the semi-erects and erects you cannot do that. A T bar for two lines at the same height would at least give me options. But I'm leaving it and securing them any way I can.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Fri, Sep 6, 13 at 0:06


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Concerning the Obsidian blackberry curling leaf issue: both of my Obsidian blackberry plants started leafing out as normal about two weeks ago from the new growth at the end of the canes. Temperatures have been cooling off a bit but there has also been less sunlight as the days have grown shorter. Those are the only 2 factors that seem to be at play.The plants have grown all summer although the leaves have been sparse and tend to fall off easily.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Scott,

What did you mean when you wrote that your blackberries "shut down" in the heat? Stunted plant growth? Flowers stopped developing? Green fruits stopped developing? Fruits stopped ripening? other? Thanks.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Mainly the plants stop growing. The fruits will continue to ripen. The slowing down also may be made worse by lack of water in that period, but as I mention above this last summer it was relatively wet in July/August and I still had slo-mo growth.

Scott


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Thanks.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Anyone have a source for the Kotata or Siskiyou varieties?


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

I have purchased siskiyou from Grow Organic and Rolling River. Kotata from Burnt Ridge, although my second order for Kotata from Burnt Ridge was wrong and they haven't corrected it yet. Rolling River has Siskiyou in stock.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

Thank you!

By the way, how are your blackberry plants doing? It was a brutal winter for us in Missouri with record lows (-22!!!) and crazy amounts of snow. So far, it looks like most of my plants have significant die-back, but also have quite a bit alive.


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RE: 2013 trailing blackberry report

The coldest temperature at my house was -8F but I had five nights at -5F or lower. I had some winners and losers but I think I also benefited from solid snow cover for the coldest parts of the winter. I covered my trailing berries with row covers too.

My Siskiyou and Kotata blackberries didn't have any dieback and kept most of their leaves. Both are already sprouting leaves and the Siskiyou are kicking up new cane sprouts already. Interestingly, the Kotata escaped vole damage although they were in between fully consumed plants. I think that because they are so thorny, that the voles decided to bypass them.

My row of boysenberries were covered but could not lay flat, so they only had partial snow cover during the winter. They had some dieback but were impacted more by voles (mice) and cane borers. I lost about 80% of the canes in total. It does look like boysenberry (thorny) plants are reasonably hardy. I had a couple of boysenberry plants in pots that I moved inside in mid-winter (after the -8F temps) and they had about 30% winter kill but they are also leafed out and getting ready to bloom.

My marionberry plants that were planted in ground had about 50% dieback but they also had some cane borer damage. They are leafing out now and I should have a decent amount of berries from them this year.

Loganberry plants overwintered with about 30% dieback but they had decent loss from cane borers. They are popping leaves and canes now.

My Obsidian blackberries died a horrible death from vole damage. There wasn't much left of them. I decided to pull them since they seemed to have a leaf curl problem last year anyway.

My black diamond survived the winter but lost it canes to cane borers (I had to prune them off). I'm going to remove black diamond and replace it with Columbia Star.

I did leave a wild treasure uncovered all winter and it survived but anything above the snow line died back.

My semi-erect blackberries (triple crown and black satin) seem to have had little to no winter damage.

Kiowa had minor dieback but it was to canes that would have been pruned back anyway, so there was no practical loss there. Surprisingly, I had two Kiowa canes that tip rooted (tip layer) which I though erect blackberries didn't do.

PrimeArk 45 is sprouting leaves now but I'm not sure how much winter damage it incurred due to the fact that part of the canes had to be pruned anyway due to fruiting on the primocane part of the canes. I did let them grow too long and they didn't produce very many laterals which will impact summer fruiting.

Ouachita seems to overwintered with little winter damage after pruning but they are starting to leaf out now which makes me nervous because our frost free date isn't until early May.

It looks like all of my raspberries survived the winter fine. One interesting finding is Cascade Delight. It was uncovered and seems to have overwintered OK but is a 'Western' raspberry. It is starting to leaf out now. There might be some winter damage but I'll report back on that.

I think you should try out Siskiyou, it seems like a pretty hardy trailing blackberry.


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RE: source for black pearl?

I am wondering if anyone knows a source for black pearl? thank you.


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