Columbia Star blackberry

Last year a few of us went in on an order. As time went on some reported good growth, but mine were just kind of sitting there. But by the end of the year mine took off and I didn’t even notice. Yesterday I was tying the canes up from being covered in leaves. Well the plant had 9 canes! Holy Moly! Three rooted themselves! I kept one and destroyed the other two. Technically I’m probably required to destroy all but a good case of mother nature can be argued here. I didn’t intend to root any (the plant is patented).

Trying to put my wyeberry, boysenberry and tayberry canes on the trellis was futile as I kept braking huge pieces of cane off trying to move them. I’m going to have to leave them on the ground. I gave up! Plus the things are so thorny! Yikes! The thorns catching on everything too.
Whereas Columbia Star remained very flexible and was easy peasy to put on the trellis!
Removing the leaves was a problem, but just pulling Columbia Star out of them was easy, not so with the others. I probably lost 50 berries yesterday trying to move the others.
I hope it tastes as good as they say, as this thornless flexible bramble is super easy to work with.
I may scrape the other trailing types and just keep this one,
Black diamond is similar, but the canes looked more damaged, and were not as flexible, although also thornless. Not as productive either with only 4 canes. Like Columbia Star it is a new plant and this is the first winter.

I will keep them all and experiment and see if I can find ways to work with the others.
Overall though Columbia Star is a star I’m really happy to have this one!

I need a blackberry that has the complex raspberry-blackberry hybrid taste. Can take -19F temps and still be productive. Or can easily be protected. And is easy to work with. So far only Columbia Star meets my needs. The uprights are hard to protect, the other trailing are not flexible enough, and are turning out to be hard to work with. Any suggestions here welcome!
Nothing is meeting my needs except Columbia Star.

One good observation was that burying the trailing types in leaves did protect them. Canes are green, some even have whole leaves.
On the uprights spraying them with wilt-stop, putting burlap around them (The burlap was not on them that well) also seemed to have protected them. All canes exposed look dead, but where I wrapped them with burlap look green and alive. Even though it was a very poor job of wrapping. A definite difference in color where wrapped.


Nice observations and good work!!

I like Black Diamond in a pot even 3-5 gal size works. It is dwarf in habit compared to Columbia Star, about 25% as much cane growth so easier to handle in a small pot. Just make a wreath out of the canes on a simple trellis as they grow and protect inside like a fig. My Black Diamond is also nearly a month later pushing growth this spring. That probably won’t translate anywhere else.

I’ll have a nice comparison of fruit this spring. Black Diamond was very good last time I fruited it.

OK, I will keep black diamond in a pot. I will root one this summer directly into a pot,
Blackberries are interesting because the tastes vary so much. Part of the fun for me is finding ways to maximize flavor of each type.

What I noticed about tayberry/wyeberry/boysenberry and others is they are more pliable when growing. I plan to wreath them outside as primocanes and lay the wreaths down and bury them in late fall. In the spring it should be easier to remount the wreath for harvest. Just letting them go wherever didn’t work.

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Do you have disease issues when burying your canes? I am concerned about that. Do you think burying with straw and a frost blanket on top of that is overkill, and can just do one or the other? I am zone 5b/6a trying to grow trailing cultivars such as Marionberry, Black Butte, Ollalie etc.

I said bury but meant in leaves or straw. I also have used wilt stop. I’m using it this year. Using just straw should work. I got rid of Columbia star, I have too many cultivars. I went with best tasting to me. I kept tayberry, new berry, and Marion berry. Also wye berry and Boysen. They make a great jam. Darrow to use in breeding.

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Hi Drew,

What made you get rid of it ?

I was thinking of buying a plant, Marion is hard to find in Europe.

Any other opinions on the strain?

I was not impressed with the flavor. The breeders in Oregon bred this one and also New Berry. New Berry is amazing and I expected more from Columbia Star. The plants share some of the same genes. I’m trying Columbia Giant now, so far it is not doing well.

How unimpressed ? is it good for fresh consumption ? how do you rate it against say loch ness ?
I’ve seen good review describe it as a rich cherry flavor with a hint of acidity.

Yes, you mentioned it in your old posts, unfortunaly I’ve only seen it available at North American Plants nursery (Commercial growers wholesale) Maybe I’ll try to ask directly the USDA-ARS to see if they have an european propagator.

I like it better than Lochness. Production is low compared to Lochness. Berries mature slow on Columbia and later than I like. I would try it. It’s not the best yet far from the worst.

Doubtful. Newberry was created by Chad Finn who is now deceased. He let a few growers trial it and they propagated it heavily. It is also called ‘Ruby Boysen’ by California growers.

It is not under patent so USDA Corvallis gets no proceeds from sales or propagation.

I spent quite a bit of time tracking this plant down. I have asked many people and out of around 20 or so i have gotten one plant in the ground.

I talked to the USDA and they believe that they have some rogue plants in one of their stations… but obtaining them would be difficult…but not impossible.

In the end i placed an order for propagation and my plants are being tissue cultured now.

I am not sure if any vendor will carry this plant moving forward… it is almost a mistake as it escaped cultivation and trials… and is for all intents and purposes dead to the market.

I plan on carrying it forward if no one else does. However receiving tissue cultured plants next year puts that plan at around 2024 (ish).

Thanks, that confirms what I had read on vinograd.](Columbia Star (Коламбия Стар) - форум-виноград)

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Yeah, with regard to fruit quality they recommended patented varieties such as ‘Columbia Star’, ‘Hall’s Beauty’, and ‘Twilight’.

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Here is the full paper on Columbia Star…it has a nice pedigree.

Here is a pretty good list of cultivars from all over the world, bloom times, fruiting dates, berry size and other useful information.

Do you have access to varieties that we cannot get here in the US?

It would be nice if we could trade or come up with something to get each other plants we want to grow.

U of Ark and USDA plants are all over the world even Russia… but nobody wants to…or is allowed to share their plants with us (US).

Lots of very nice varieties in Russia but hard to get…im working on it.

Thanks you but I’ve already read it before.

Thanks I know it too, I think it’s the most complete one can find.

Easily I don’t think so, most of them come from your research stations, the vast majority of garden centers here sold old cultivars like: ‘thornfree’, ‘thornless evergreen’, ‘black satin’, ‘chester’…

Here are a few that I have no experience with.