Extending the blackberry season


Recently a friend got a large order of prime ark 45 and prime ark freedom. He ordered 2 dozen plants for me at the same time. The reason I’m interested in these particular berries is to extend my season because my main crop of blackberries is ripe in July. This will give an earlier spring crop and a later fall crop. Is anyone growing these blackberries or do you have another plan to extend your season? My friend ordered me a dozen of each type.

Stark bros says this about the prime ark 45 “Early and heavy producer. Erect canes make it easy to pick these firm, midnight-black berries. Fruit stores well for longer-term enjoyment. Plants are disease-resistant and cold-hardy. First-year canes begin ripening in mid-July, while second-year canes bear heaviest crops in June. Both continue to fruit until frost. Everbearing primocane. Early season. Self-pollinating. May be covered by U.S.P.P. #22449 or other patents. APF-45 cultivar.”

Nourse said this about Prime ark freedom "Prime Ark® Freedom is the fourth release from Dr. John Clark and University of Arkansas primocane breeding program. For floricane fruiting, it has very large fruits, larger than Natchez, with excellent flavor. It also ripens exceptionally early on floricanes (9-11 days earlier than Natchez). Fruit size and total yield is similar to the Prime Ark® 45. Freedom is a great choice for local commercial distribution and home gardens. It is not recommended for the shipping market. Prime Ark® Freedom requires “tipping” to achieve the highest yields and performance.

U.S. Plant Patent #26,990

Berry Size: Large/VL
Best in Zones: 6 - 9
Firmness: Moderate
Flavor: Excellent
Thornless: Yes
We recommend a soil pH level of 6.5 - 6.8 for blackberry plants.
This Fall Bearing Blackberry Plant bears some fruit the first fall of planting year, and either summers or falls after that depending on how it is managed.
Price includes a royalty or usage fee. Patent laws or license contracts prohibit propagation of the variety for resale or trade.
Fall-bearing or primocane blackberries respond favorably to tipping! As the primocanes reach 12-15” in height, break or cut ¾-1” off the tip of each cane to force branching. Tip again when branches reach 30”. This process stimulates earlier fruit development, keeps plant height in check, and increases yield."

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I am growing the prime ark 45. The first crop of blackberries is larger with larger berries than the fall crop but they worth the effort to get fresh blackberries in the fall.


I received my order of PAF’s from Nourse this week also. I was surprised when I seen the root mass! First class in my book. I have Triple Crown and they do ok here in Montana, not sure how the PAF’s will do in Z4b. Will see I guess? I’m one of those zone pushers and not afraid to try and beat the odds.


Since I grow figs in zone 6 I don’t see much wrong with growing zone 6 blackberries in zone 4. Let us know how they do if you would.


Looking forward to fall blackberries those must be pretty nice.


I planted three PAFs in 2015 on the edge of zones 3 and 4. In the winters I covered them ridiculously well with styrofoam blocks and some polymedia material for making sound speakers that I got free off Craigslist. I was surprised to find green leaves yet on some of the canes after being covered for over six months. The past two winters have been relatively mild, but we did have twenty-five below last December. I also have some Nelsons that got no protection at all and are doing fine. The Nelsons have thorns, are smaller, but are also sweeter. Blackberries are not my favorite berry, but it is good to have variety.



Triple Crown might give you berries in August.


I had one plant of Freedom, but it didn’t make it through the winter. It was very small though. I would consider trying them except I have nowhere left to put anything until I pull out something. I’m happy with my blackberries and have no plans to pull anything., TC was mentioned, just thought I would mention Chester is even later than Triple Crown. Not the best berry, but keeping mine. I feel done after Chester anyway. I still have bags and bags of blackberries. I better start eating them as soon I will be storing new ones! This year I plan to give a lot away and go easy on the storage.
I also would buy Freedom from Indiana just because I can order one, not five! I could not handle five. Indiana is right there with Nourse as far as the quality of the plants, you won’t find better anywhere else.
Yeah I want to get a Nelson sometime just not to have to fuss over them. I have Darrow which is doing well and looks different than any other blackberry I have… The color of the thorns and canes are different. I should get a few berries this year.
My favorite two are Loch Ness and Tayberry. Tayberry is slow to grow, not very hardy either. But the berries are the best man! Loch Ness is very sweet if you let them hang til calyx is completely brown. Thornless and semi-upright. Just for the ease of it all I like it. All my other favorites are trailing types which is a pain to work with. Easy to protect though.
Many other awesome blackberries too, so many to try yet!

Looking for Nelson, if anybody ever wants to trade for figs or other blackberries or whatever let me know ASAP so I can tip root/air layer a plant. I threw away 25 tip roots last season, not by me.I went through and removed a bunch, I thought all of them. A month later I went through again and removed five more I missed. These things are tough to tame!


I was surprised when I saw this excellent data on the prime ark 45’s https://rubus.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/prime-ark-45-blackberry-background.pdf?fwd=no. Perhaps everyone is more familiar with this berry than me. I’ve heard from friends freedom is not widely grown or it’s attributes well know yet. It does appear very promising in certain areas https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fKGAe4iSzMI


I’m in zone 8 and I put in PAF two years ago. I grow them in partial shade because we are so hot. I’m a blackberry novice but these have been fantastic. They have not gone dormant here. I am beginning to pick berries and the primocanes are already pushing up above the floricanes crop. The are very vigorous plants. The berries are large and sweet when fully ripe. Good blackberry flavor. This is what I am looking at today…

The primocanes started ripening in July last year and continued until November but I didn’t have many at a time. Enough to munch on. The production on the floricanes has at least tripled this year. Two years ago this May these were two inch root cuttings…

The first pic is of a primocane that slipped up on me and I tipped it last weekend and it’s already sending out laterals…well, straight up laterals. They get top heavy very quick.



Those look excellent. Did you need to improve the soil much? Have they spread at all naturally?


We tilled the soil with some horse manure and have pine bark mulch on top. More horse manure was thrown on top last year and then some 10-10-10 early this spring. We have basically neutral soil that is loam but it’s shallow over clay. I have dug up 7 nice canes that came up out of the box (5 x 20 foot box…not raised just defined to hold the mulch) and then had a sprout from one of the roots and I just placed these 8 last weekend in another 5 x 20 box. I quit looking for more canes and just mow it! They are very prolific.


Sounds like you did a great job planting them. The ones I put in went into moderate soil at best. I did not have enough time or resources to improve the soil at the moment. Hopefully they are everything they are supposed to be.


My soil is far from good…I use poop maybe more than I should but it is my panacea! :grin: A U-Pick guy somewhere around here who posts vids on YouTube has almost solid clay and they are doing well for him. I bet they will do good for you. I hope you like them. Keep me informed. You always have the prettiest berries!


I love blackberries, but have had terrible luck with them. I’ve probably tried half a dozen plants, Ouachita, Natchez and Apache that I can remember off the top of my head. They all died…Maybe it’s the location, soil seemed decent so I’m imagining it might have had something to do with the amount of sunlight…although I thought they were somewhat shade tolerant. Would like to give it a go again. thinking I’ll plant them in a sunnier locale and see how they do.


Does this tell you anything about spreading… there were three more large ones that had come up in my strawberries. I pulled the root and it was about 4 foot longer than the 6+ feet from the mother plant. These may be monsters. “Feed me, Seymour” comes to mind…



I went through my blackberry patch three times looking for tip rooted plants. The first time I thought I got them all, same with the 2nd time, but yet on the 3rd time I found more. If left alone my whole back yard and the neighbors yards on either side would be a giant blackberry patch!


They sound pretty promising!
Living in a blackberry patch might not be terrible! The thorny berries i currently grow really spread and produce but that extra early and late crops are going to be nice if it works out.


Yes, I have early and late crops too, I have no plans to get rid of any of them. I just made blackberry smoothies last night. I’m trying to use up the berries in anticipation of this year’s crop. Man it was the best! I remove seeds and store the raw unsweetened syrup in small containers. About a cup, for use in smoothies. The color is fantastic, and for whatever reason last night’s was exceptional good. My daughter bought me a Ninja smoothie maker and I though it was overkill, just use a good blender. Well i was wrong, this thing is awesome! It blends much better than any blender I ever had (I have good blenders too, and food processors too), and has an auto setting. I press once and it blends them perfect every time. Plus you can drink right out of the blending cup. less dishes to wash, a fantastic machine.


I have Prime Ark freedom growing. I started out with one plant and it managed to escape my trellis and become five plants. I have pulled out a bunch of it when I did my garden beds this year and moved some of the better looking plants to a fence where they can out compete the weeds that grow there. Plenty of fruit down here in zone 9a Texas but from what I can recall either I did not water enough or they tend to stop fruiting during the really hot months of the summer.