NC State Extension Publications

 

Early-season blackberries and floricane-fruiting raspberries ripen shortly after strawberries, making them ideal crops to extend the berry harvest season. Within this region, yields and adaptation will vary based on site. Harvest season will vary by state as well. For example, early-ripening blackberry cultivars will be harvested two to four weeks earlier in southern Georgia than in North Carolina. Size and shape of blackberry cultivars vary (Figure 5). More information on many of the blackberry cultivars listed below can also be found online at the University of Arkansas's Commercial Fruit and Nut site. The recommendations in Table 2 and Table 3 are based on research trials and grower experience throughout the southern United States.

Each year, new caneberry cultivars are released from various breeding programs around the world. It is best to perform small trials of new cultivars to determine whether they perform well in your area and fit into your marketing plan.

John Clark, a blackberry breeder at the University of Arkansas, has produced a number of videos that discuss the characteristics of blackberries released from his program. Here are links to some of them:

Blackberries perform well throughout most regions of the states that are a part of the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium. Most of the common cultivars have a moderate chilling requirement and tolerate the hot summer climates. Where low chilling occurs, such as southern Georgia, some blackberries do not perform as well. Consult your local extension service for recommendations.

Although raspberries can be grown in some regions in the South, exposure to high temperatures common in the South for extended periods will slowly weaken plant growth from year to year. Fruit perishability also increases greatly with high temperatures during harvest. In general, raspberries produce well at elevations above 2,000 feet. However, our research has shown that raspberries for local markets can be produced at lower elevations and under high tunnels in some regions, such as the western piedmont of North Carolina.

Table 2. Recommended blackberry cultivars for North Carolina (NC), Georgia (GA), Tennessee (TN), South Carolina (SC), Virginia (VA), and Arkansas (AR).
Variety Growth Habit State (region within state if applicable) Thorns Season Comments
NC GA TN SC VA AR
Floricane-fruiting cultivars
Arapaho Erect All All NR All All All No Early Lower yields; plant at higher density
Natchez Erect All Trial Trial Trial Trial All No Early (slightly before or with Arapaho) Very large fruit; very high yield; tends to over produce so careful pruning is essential. Winter hardiness is poor in high elevations.
Ouachita Erect All All All All All All No Early to mid Excellent flavor; high yields
Apache Erect All NR All All All NR No Mid White druplets can be severe; local sales only
Osage Erect All All Trial Trial Trial All No Mid New cultivar with superior flavor
Kiowa Erect NR All; except high mountains All All All All Yes Mid Low chilling; best for local sales and PYO
Navaho Erect All All All All All All No Mid to late Stores well; excellent flavor; average size. Quite susceptible to orange rust; long harvest season
Von Erect All Trial Trial Trial Trial Trial No Mid to late Holds up well in rain; high yields; average size
Hull Semi-erect NR All All ? All ? No Late Good quality, but soft when ripe; local sales only
Chester Semi-erect All All All ? All ? No Very late Tart, average quality; very high yields
Triple Crown Semi-erect All ? All ? All ? No Very late Sweet; good yields; local sales only
Primocane-fruit cultivars
Prime-Jan® Erect Floricane crop in piedmont and coastal plain; Primocane crop in mountain only ? ? ? ? Floricane crop only Yes Very late primocane crop Soft berries for home use only
Prime-Ark® 45 Erect Floricane crop in piedmont; Primocane crop in western piedmont and lower mountains Trial ? ? ? Floricane crop only Yes Very thorny, large, nice berries for shipping
Prime-Ark® Freedom Erect Trial Trial Trial Trial Trial Trial No Floricane crop very early; primocane crop earlier than Prime-Ark® 45 Thornless, primocane-fruiting; soft berries for home garden or lcoal market only
Prime-Ark® Traveler Erect Trial Trial Trial Trial Trial Trial No Floricane crop very early; primocane crop earlier than Prime-Ark® 45 Thornless, primocane-fruiting; suitable for shipping
All – The cultivar is recommended for all regions of the state.
NR – Not recommended.
Trial – Not enough data; recommended for trial only.
? – No information at this time.

Table 3. Recommended raspberry cultivars for North Carolina (NC), Georgia (GA), Tennessee (TN), South Carolina (SC), Virginia (VA), and Arkansas (AR).
Cultivar State/Region Season Comments
NC GA TN SC VA AR
Floricane-fruiting cultivars
Mandarin Mountains and piedmont Mountains and piedmont All ? Mountains and northern piedmont ? Early summer, before blackberries Availability may be very limited; fruit quality inferior
Dormanred All All All ? NR ? Mid-summer Attractive fruit; very low quality unless cooked
Lauren Mountain and western piedmont; Trial ? ? ? ? ? ? Postharvest shelf life is poor; dark fruit; medium-large fruit; very good yield
Moutere Mountains and western piedmont; Trial ? ? ? ? ? ? Attractive fruit, good yield
Nova Mountains and western piedmont; Trial ? ? ? ? ? Shows some heat tolerance
Primocane-fruiting cultivars
Caroline Mountains and western piedmont Mountains and western piedmont; Trial All ? Mountains and northwestern piedmont ? Mid-fall Medium berries; medium red color; late-season; average quality
Heritage Mountains and western piedmont; Trial Mountains and western piedmont; Trial All ? Mountains and northwestern piedmont ? Early fall Small berries; medium-dark red color; late-season; average quality
Nantahala Mountains and western piedmont Mountains and western piedmont All ? Mountains ? Late fall Medium berries, light red color, very good quality; excellent flavor, excellent postharvest quality
Autumn Britten Mountains Mountains and western piedmont ? ? ? ? Early fall Large berries; dark red color
Himbo Top Mountains and western piedmont; Trial ? ? ? ? ? Mid fall Medium berries, shiny red color; long season
Joan J Mountains ? ? ? ? ? Mid fall Medium berries; darker red color
Anne Mountains ? ? ? ? ? Mid fall Medium berries; yellow berries; PYO only (very soft fruit)
All – The cultivar is recommended for all regions of the state.
NR – Not recommended.
Trial – Not enough data; recommended for trial only.
? – No information at this time.

Figure 5. Blackberry fruit from thornless blackberry varieties.

Figure 5. Blackberry fruit from thornless blackberry varieties. Fruit from many of these cultivars vary in size and flavor.

Absalom Shank, NC State University

Authors:

Extension Specialist (Small Fruits)
Horticultural Science
Professor
University of Arkansas
Professor
University of Tennessee

Publication date: Oct. 30, 2015
Last updated: May 12, 2017
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