BlackBerries -- Extending the Fresh Eating

Zone 7a - Southern Middle Tennessee.

BlackBerries are one of my favorite fruits, and fortunately my most dependable crop here… they just never fail to produce lots of wonderful berries. I know how to grow them, and have done well at that for many years now (since 2003).

In a year or two, I will be moving to a new location (other property that I own) and before I actually move there (starting this spring and summer) and next spring… I will be getting started, planting, and preparing beds for planting all of the stuff I plan to grow at the new home place.

Blackberries will definitely be one of those must haves at the new place.

I would like to have perhaps 3 varieties… to extend the harvest season… Early, Mid and Late.

Here is what I could find on ripening dates for the Univ of Ark varieties… ( In Ark)

Natchez June 5
Osage June 10
Ouachita June 12
Navaho June 20
Apache June 25

Of course that is in Ark, so may vary for me some.
Does anyone have Tennessee ripening dates on any of those ?

The new variety “Ponca” from Ark… is said to ripen near Natches (early), and Flavor is supposed to be outstanding. I think I am going to have to give this one a try for my Early Berry slot. The Ponca variety is supposed to sort of double crop… producing a crop early, and then a second crop about 2 weeks later. There is a video on youtube showing details on that if you are interested. That sounds nice.

Caddo is another Ark variety… health, vigor, flavor seem to be high points mentioned… but it is reported to ripen June 8… probably about the same time as the newer (possibly better tasting) Ponca variety.

Osage is another that they brag on for flavor but it ripens right in that same timeframe as Ponca.

Navaho and Apache are older varieties, ripen later… but not sure I want to give those a try.

I wonder if you had Ponca, would you really need Ouachita (possibly) as a Mid season fruiter ?

I have also heard that Tripple Crown might be a good choice for a later season blackberry ? Stark says ripen August, Gurnies Mid July… Not sure exactly when they would ripen here in Tennessee.
If you are growing those here in TN, would appreciate some details on the ripening date, flavor, sweetness, disease resistance.

Ponca - Early
Ouachita - Mid
Tripple Crown - Late

I will know by late July, August here, exactly when Ouachita ripen, and how long they produce ripe fruit, how they taste… but if you are growing those here in TN, I would appreciate your opinion of them too especially on those 3 details.

PS… I have a co-worker that has Navaho and Tripple Crown (in a county next to mine)… and her opinion was that the Tripple Cown was a much better berry, taste wise and production wise.

Any recommendations on a possible 3 variety combination to extend the harvest season would be appreciated.

PS… I do know that you can freeze many types of berries, including blackberries. I do a lot of that. We eat blackberries, and loganberries all winter, I flash freeze them and vacuum seal in pint and half pint jars. But eating them fresh is oh so good.



You do not mention the SWD fruit fly so I assume that is not a (mid-to late season) pest for you (yet).

The Columbia series of blackberry varieties are very early, I don’t know if they are successful in TN.

Have you tried Prime Ark Freedom? The primocane crop may extend your season

Nil… yes I have watched all the Univ of Ark (expert guy) sorry can’t remember his name… but he does some nice vids on Youtube, and I have watched them all, some multiple times. I am a blackberry lover for sure.

The thing that makes me NOT consider the Primocane fruiting varieties, is their mention of … they stop producing when it gets (something like over 90 degrees)… and well that can be most of the summer for me.

If they can conquer that issue, I might give them a try.


Below is one of the vids that he mentions…

you really need a “mild climate” to get a fall crop, he says that it does well with temps in the 80’s… but when you get over 90 and especially up in the 100’s for a few days (which we do occasionally in July, August) lots of problems… no blooms, no fruit, or fruit quality issues.

In a few places he mentions the fall crop (in appropriate environmental conditions)… I take that to go with the “mild climate”… which does not sound like my normal late summer or early fall. It is often hot a heck around here late summer and early fall.

In one place he seems to indicate that the spring or early summer fruiting is before Natchez (June 5), but then later on he says Mid June. So I am not real sure how early the first crop actually is.

I have a variety now that starts ripening around June 20… and the newer Ponca may be even earlier than that.

If anyone has grown these Primocane varieties in TN.(especially southern middle)… I would love to hear any details you have on them.


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On that SWD fruit fly… until this morning I have not heard of that… but did a google search and see warnings that it is in TN now.

Just what I need, something else to mess with my fav fruits.

I have not had time to research it much, but it sounds like you are saying that it is less of a problem with earlier ripening fruit… and that a late crop (like possibly Tripple Cown) would be even more subject to SWD fruit fly issues ???

Oh my… I will have to look into that. Thanks for the heads up on that.


Yes, exactly: Triple crown colors up in the peak fly season. Anything that ripens before mid-July is less affected. The flies continue into the late everbearing season in milder climates. Vinegar traps are easy and somewhat effective; there are more laborious or chemical controls. Puree-ing and juicing can filter out nearly all of the larvae. For fresh eating, refrigeration can draw most of the larvae to the fruit surface.