Got Prickles? A Closer Look at Prime Blackberries


“Dear Horticulture Talk,

Thanks for being such a great blog.  I really enjoy your articles.  I was wondering you could help me out on a question.  I see that a lot of the seed catalogs are offering an everbearing set of blackberries.  Some have Ark, Jim, and Jan.  The descriptions sound nice, but do you know if they are thornless.  We’ve tried thornless blackberreis in the past, but the deer eat them down to the ground.  I’m hoping they aren’t because I love blackberries and havign them all the time would be nice.  Is there anything else that makes them different to grow?  I know you grow June and Everbearing strawberries different.  Is it like that with blackberries?  Do you have more info than the little paragraph that they have in the catalogs, because each catalog has just about the same paragraph?

Thank you for your thoughts and I’m happy to be one of your fans.

Sincerely,

Buddy Miller

Waupaca, WI”

___________________________________________________________________________________

Hi Buddy,

Thank you for your kind comments.  I’m glad to know that there is at least one fan out there.  Woot!  Okay, just kidding, but all the same it is good to know that people are doing more than just glancing once at my blog.

The Prime® Everbearing Blackberries Series (Rubus fruticosus) are definitely something to get excited about.  As a kid, I remember blackberry picking quite fondly.  About 1 1/4 miles from home was the homesite of my great aunt and uncle.  Back in the 1910s-1960s, the homesite had been a prosperous farm.  My great aunt and uncle were never blessed with any children, so after they passed away the land was sold to a gentleman that owned much of the land around and had it set up as tree farms.  The back pastures were put into trees and the buildings, small woods around them, and a large ‘bowl’/kettle were left to go wild.  The tree farm land bordered my parent’s land, and as they knew the gentleman, we were granted permission to cross country ski, hunt, or do pretty much whatever we wanted on the land.  The large bowl provided lots of winter sledding memories, the buildings were always great for pictures or maybe digging up a sprig of an old perennial that still grew in my great aunt’s old flowerbeds, and the woods… well, the woods were FULL of blackberries.  The places was famous in the area as everyone and their brother went there to pick berries.  While many probably did not have permission to be there, it was okay because there were more than enough berries to go around.  Unfortunately, the gentleman got a bit greedy in the late 90s and took out the buildings and woods/berries and put more trees in there too.  As of the past summer, though, the blackberries have come back enough to be a force to be reckoned with in the trees!

But, I digress.  Let’s get back to the Primes®!

There are three types of Prime® Blackberries: Prime-Ark® 45, Prime Jim®, and Prime Jan®.  To break them down into a bit more detail:

–Prime-Ark® 45:  

Type – Primocane-fruiting; thorny, erect.

Date of Release – 2009; Plant Patent Applied For

Fruit Size – Fruits of Prime-Ark®45 are medium-large, averaging 6 g or more in most trials measuring floricane fruits in Arkansas. In trials in Oregon and California, primocane fruits were just over 7 grams and near 9 grams, respectively. In Arkansas, primocane fruits are smaller, usually 4 to 5 grams.

Flavor/Sweetness – Average soluble solids (a measurement of sweetness) of Prime-Ark® 45 was near 10%, just under that of Ouachita. In additional measurements in other plantings and years, soluble solids of 10 to 11% have been measured on floricane fruits of Prime-Ark® 45. Primocane fruit soluble solids levels have achieved 12%. Overall fruit flavor ratings for Prime-Ark® 45 were higher than the previous primocane-fruiting releases, and were near that of Ouachita.

Yield – Fruit yields have been very good in trials of Prime-Ark® 45. Most of the yield evaluation in Arkansas has been done on floricanes, and in research trials, floricane yields of Prime-Ark® 45 exceeded Prime-Jim® and were comparable to thornless, floricane-fruiting varieties. For primocane yields, data from Arkansas showed higher yields for Prime-Ark® 45 compared to Prime-Jim®. In observational plots in California and Oregon, primocane yields were very good.

Maturity Date – Floricane first harvest date for Prime-Ark® 45 is June 9 in Arkansas, 4 days after Prime-Jim® and Natchez and 4 days before Ouachita. Primocane first bloom date for Prime-Ark® 45 is usually about 2 weeks later than that for Prime-Jan® and Prime-Jim® Likewise, primocane fruit ripens 2-3 weeks later for Prime-Ark® 45 compared to Prime-Jan® and Prime-Jim®, averaging August 8. In California, ripening of primocane fruit was in late August and in Oregon was mid September. This later primocane fruit ripening date should be noted as the harvest date may be an issue in northern areas to complete the fruit ripening period. Likewise this later ripening date could be a major asset for production in areas where later fruiting is desired.

Disease Resistance – No orange rust observed and only slight anthracnose observed. No information available concerning resistance to double blossom/rosette.

Comments – Prime-Ark® 45 is primarily intended to provide a high quality berry with excellent postharvest handling to allow production of berries for local and shipping markets in the late summer to fall fruiting season in areas where it is adapted. Summer temperatures above 85oF can reduce fruit set and quality on primocanes. Performance of Prime-Ark® 45 in primocane fruiting has exceeded that of Prime-Jim® and Prime-Jan® in Arkansas, and may offer enhanced adaptation to higher heat conditions. However, only trial plantings are recommended to determine full adaptation to specific locations.

–Prime-Jim®:  

Type – Primocane-fruiting; thorny, erect.

Date of Release – 2004; plant patent #16989.

Fruit Size – Floricane fruit average 5 g; primocane fruit vary by location grown, from 3 to 10 g in various trials.

Flavor/Sweetness – Good, similar to other thorny varieties; soluble solids (percent sugar) averages 8%.

Yield –  Floricane yields comparable to floricane-fruiting thorny and thornless varieties such as Apache and Ouachita; exceeds Arapaho in floricane yield. Primocane yields vary greatly by location, from very high in the Willamette Valley of Oregon to very low at Hope, Arkansas.

Maturity Date – Floricane fruit ripens beginning approximately June 3 at Clarksville, Arkansas, and fruiting extends for about four weeks. Floricane ripening season is near that of Arapaho. Primocane fruit begins ripening approximately July 17 at Clarksville and Sept. 1 in Oregon. Primocane fruiting can continue until frost depending on summer and fall temperatures. Fruit development to maturity may not be completed in more northern areas of the U.S.

Disease Resistance – Floricanes susceptible to double blossom/rosette, but primocanes avoid this disease since the disease does not appear until the second season on the canes. No orange rust observed and only slight anthracnose observed.

Comments – Recommended only for home garden use and very limited commercial trial. Not recommended for storage nor shipping. Hardiness similar to other Arkansas thorny varieties. Summer temperatures above 85F can greatly reduce fruit set, size and quality on primocanes; this results in substantial reductions in yield and quality of fruits in areas with this temperature range in late summer and fall. Seed size small, ave. 2.1 mg/seed.

–Prime-Jan®:  

Type – Primocane-fruiting; thorny, erect.

Date of Release – 2004; plant patent #15,788.

Fruit Size – Floricane fruit average 5 g; primocane fruit vary by location grown, from 3 to 15 g in various trials.

Flavor/Sweetness – Good, similar to other thorny varieties; soluble solids (percent sugar) averages 9.6%.

Yield –  Floricane yields comparable to floricane-fruting thorny and thornless varieties such as Apache and Ouachita; usually exceeds Arapaho in floricane yield. Primocane yields vary greatly by location, from very high in the Willamette Valley of Oregon to very low at Hope, Arkansas.

Maturity Date – Floricane fruit ripens beginning approximately June 8 at Clarksville, Arkansas, and fruiting extends for about four weeks. Floricane ripening season begins just after that of Arapaho. Primocane fruit begins ripening approximately July 18 at Clarksville and Sept. 1 in Oregon. Primocane fruiting can continue until frost depending on summer and fall temperatures. Fruit development to maturity may not be completed in more northern areas of the U.S.

Disease Resistance – Floricanes susceptible to double blossom/rosette, but primocanes avoid this disease since the disease does not appear until the second season on the canes. No orange rust observed and only slight anthracnose observed.

Comments – Recommended only for home garden use and very limited commercial trial. Not recommended for storage nor shipping. Hardiness similar to Choctaw and Arapaho, but has shown some late winter cane injury in some years. Summer temperatures above 85F can greatly reduce fruit set, size and quality on primocanes; this results in substantial reductions in yield and quality of fruits in areas with this temperature range in late summer and fall.

So, no matter which variety you choose, those deer better be on the look out or else they are going to have a very sore mouth!

I hope this information helps you out, and again, thanks for reading!

*** Information provided in this article comes from Randy at AgriStarts of Apopka, FL and from the University of Arkansas Extension.  To get more information on any of the Prime® Blackberries, please check out their website at www.agristarts.com and http://www.aragriculture.org, respectively.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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