Favorite Blackberry (with thorns) ? or without

Nelson’s have been my only successful blackberry, and we find the flavor fine. Mine are quite erect and don’t require staking, but need critter protection in winter. They also spread, but not excessively. The thorns don’t seem to provide much protection


PAF was bred in zone 7 Arkansas so it is hardy to zone 7. However, zone 7 Arkansas and zone 7 New England are two different stories. Thus the limitation of relying on USDA hardiness zones as a ‘map of what grows where’.

Summer high temps, winter lows, humidity, fluctuations in winter weather and spring freezes all effect blackberries. I’m in zone 6b and it does fine so far, but performance has been so-so in the last few years of trials. It has potential but is still experimental.

One, maybe the major issue with PAF is that the primocane crop will fail if summer temps go into the 90s. The immature berries or flowers will drop. That will prove an issue in places like TX and the South with very hot summers when it blooms around June/July. It happened here a few years ago during an intensely hot drought period in August.

They’ve also released Prime Ark Traveler which may perform better, but I have not tested it. They say the berries are firmer and better for marketing/shipping.

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Excellent information Blake, thanks. We easily get into the 90’s here in July so PAF is looking more and more iffy. I’m getting up in years and less interested in trialing “long-shots” than I used to be. I might plant one as a test.

@auburn- how has PAF performed for you?

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I’m in NC 7B and the primocane plants do not do well here.

The rest of the Arkansas varieties do well.

We tried most of the early USDA thornless introductions before we moved to the Arkansas varieties

I like the fruit on Shawnee and Kiowa but find the thorns difficult to deal with. They may be more manageable where half of the crop is mowed to the ground each year.

Triple Crown is not great here either but we have Galaxy and Eclipse in the ground and look forward to testing their fruit this summer



There is a full thread of over 300 comments here on PAF…

I think i read on a FB group that the way to get it to act right on colder than Z7 is to keep it at around 3ft. Thats the only thing that i havent tried. That makes sense because my winter injury is usually past that. I think trim at 3ft or so and get the laterals to push is the key to anything colder than Arkansas.

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I quit growing blackberries a while back and we relocated to another area. PAF while I had it had a great taste.

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i just tie my canes to a piece of heavy nylon twine strung between 2 2’‘x 2’’ posts screwed to the outside of my raised beds. they dont need much support.

Did you notice it stopping production in heat of summer?

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It has been a while since I grew them but I think they did slow down some during the summer.

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Erect/clumping thornless varieties like Osage, Ponca, Arapahoe don’t throw a lot of root suckers far from the row. True?

But thorny varieties like Kiowa and semi-erect thornless like Triple Crown are famous for throwing root suckers everywhere. True?

I may finally be getting the picture here.

I was taken in by the Doyle blackberry lies. They claimed it would fruit in Houston area. It won’t. Very expensive plants as well.

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For me, Osage doesn’t send out suckers more than say, 6ft. Triple Crown acts about the same. And TC isn’t really semi-erect for me, more like almost a trailing variety, so it has to be tied (or trained) to a trellis.

I planted two Ponca’s last June, so too early to tell.

Don’t have Kiowa (big berries, but thorny) or Arapaho.

Freedom suckers the most, by far. I got a very good primocane crop last year (into October), first time since I planted it (2018). It may have because I did more tipping of the canes before they got too long. This caused more fruiting laterals, I suppose.

It wasn’t as hot last summer either compared to previous years, so that may have helped, too. But, it may struggle in your summer heat, but you ought to get a good floricane crop.

I have Traveler, it does okay here, berries are decent size and flavor. It may sucker a bit more than the other thornless varieties (except PAF).

Sounds like you have a good collection of varieties to start with.

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Before my tree fruit started producing all the fruit I needed I enjoyed growing brambles, including blackberries. Triple Crown was the standard, although they freeze to the ground somewhere around -10F so you need to set canes on the ground and cover them with leaves in cold regions.

Does anyone besides Drew find the Ark series tend to taste grassy when not fully ripe? I never noticed that and ones like Navaho I used to grow were sweeter than anything else growing here. They seem similarly susceptible to harsh winter temps as Triple Crown.

I just planted blackberries again last summer- two varieties of the Ark series including their new “wonderkid”. Otherwise I’ve only been eating fall bearing raspberries that continue to produce in spite of terrible virus issues here. They are a “forage fruit” for me as I rarely harvest them to bring inside beyond a few to eat with breakfast when I want a break from peaches or nectarines.

Another question- my fall bearing raspberries are always swarming with SWD but I’ve never noticed any larva in the ripe fruit I pick. If they are too small to see, who cares about them- I can’t taste them.

As far as Hardy Illini goes, it didn’t past the muster for sweetness or productivity for me- I might as well stick to the natives that grow all around my property, and keep my viruses thriving.

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IF anyone here is from the UK i would like to try the other versions of Navaho: Big and Early, Summerlong and The Big Easy.

Lubera has bred them to be a very nice line. They are good to -4F so far.

If you are from the U.K i would love to trade for, or buy these plants. Feel free to PM me.

Sounds like you grow some erect varieties without trellis- is that easier overall or does it turn into a jungle of shoots?. I think U of Ark recommends trellis and T shape pruning, not sure how necessary that is.

All 4 of my UArk varieties (plus the 4 I planted last year) are in a row in the front yard. They aren’t trellised at all, but they should be. They are pretty upright canes, but if they get too long, the tips will naturally fall towards the ground.

I try to tip my floricane bearers at about 4ft, and the primocane bearers at about 2ft. But they still need some kind of support. It’s also recommended that you try to keep all the canes within a 2ft wide area, or it will turn into a jungle. That’s what’s happened to my Triple Crown row.

I keep saying I’m going to run some trellis wires for the last few years, but haven’t. Maybe this year?

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I usually buy my berries from Nourse or Indiana Berry. I’ve noticed that they’re already sold out of PAF. I was curious where you ordered your PAF from @hambone ?

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Pense has around 4000 plants in stock $6 each. (their shipping cost sucks though unless u buy alot).


I had a big problem with all of the blackberries I got from Pense that were dormant tissue culture plants. All of their bare root plants were perfect. May be useful to know if the PAF are bare root or TC

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