First Ponca blackberry impression

The Ponca blackberries I planted in the spring are coming along nicely. A few of the plants flowered on the old growth bareroot stalk. I had a nice big juicy one that was to be ready today. Unfortunately when I got home from work it seems one of the local birds needed it more than me. There was a runt of a berry on the same bush that was black as well that the birds so graciously left me. I was not expecting much but to my delight the berry was very sweet with a very slight twang at the end. It was only one so not much of a sample size but I’m optimistic these plants will be winners next year. My sweetie pies have been getting destroyed by the birds and squirrels even with netting up. It’s so frustrating. If it’s war they want, it shall be war they get :wink:


Thanks for the report @Wolfmanjack. My Ponca survived their long journey from Arkansas to Washington State, barely but now putting on good growth. Where there is growth there is hope.

Have you tried holographic flash tape? Works very well for me, and nothing else does. I use it on cherries, blueberries, peaches. Have not tried it yet for blackberries. I used to get almost no cherries. Now I get a bucketload of them.

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Would love to hear the comparison between Ponca and Sweetie Pie. I have Sweetie Pie, it’s very sweet and have good flavor. Wondering if Ponca is worth getting. Currently there is no source that will ship Ponca to CA

I may try ponca in the next year or two.

I have ilinni and ouachitaw that will be ripe soon.

I have just a few jostaberries on 2 yr old plants… and one was very near ready today … I think… dark and a little soft. I decided to give it one more day and yes I will be lucky if a bird does not beat me to it.

I have not tasted one yet… if lucky will tomorrow.

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I wouldn’t say my palate is refined by any stretch of the imagination but the Ponca was very sweet for a blackberry in a good way. Hopefully I get a few more this year to try. I have three sweetie pies that are producing this year and they are only a year old so the full flavor may not be observable yet? The best of the plants has a really nice sweet flavor, very mild tang and I can detect an almost citrus like ending. Almost like a mild orange sweet tart, much more sweet than tart though. If I get any more Ponca berries I’ll be sure to report back.

I will definitely be trying the holographic tape tomorrow. Can you elaborate on how exactly you distribute the tape? How long are the pieces, how many, where in relation to the plants, etc…?

I’m in CA and have received a few. DM as I think there maybe options, I have one I’m willing to part with as well.

Only had one Ponca bare root out of 4 live and fruit just ripening, on the other hand I may have hit the blackberry lotto with one of my 5 1st year plugs making a flower on a primocane. Hoping is mutation rater than fluke.

@Bear_with_me yes how do you put it up. Birds are already everywhere and more of them this year there already swiping my tayberries holographic tape that is.

Well checked my jostaberry early this morning… and as suspected… the one looking ripe was gone.

I guess a bird got it late yesterday evening.

I have 2 more jostaberries… not yet ripe.

I bagged them and my last 2 red currants which are ripening.

You might try bagging your blackberries. It works for me on blueberries nicely… when you have fruit in clusters… bag the cluster.

I am using 4 x6 mesh bags with draw strings. You can get them in various sizes on amazon.

I use larger bags on my Concord grape clusters… or the birds get most.


My last two red currants…

Hope I get to eat them.

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I found birds to be a big problem when I was growing blackberries. We got a blackberry variety that had thorns from Home Depot. It never really thrived and the birds got to it before we could. The blackberries it produced where super small compared to supermarket blackberries. I wonder if it was the soil because I amended the soil last year and planting some raspberries this year and the raspberries are all thriving.

@wolfmanjack and @fullplate I cut lengths about a foot long. I use a paper punch to make a hole in one end. Then I use a twist tie to attach it loosely near fruit on tree or bush. I attach dozens ob them. The wind blowing them around in daylight is kind of blinding. Maybe that confuses or slightly blinds the birds.

Im planning to attach some to raspberries in the am. If I remember, I’ll take a photo and post it.

@wolfmanjack & @fullplate, these are raspberries not blackberries but the idea is the same. Last fall I took the reflective tape off the cherry tree and saved them- that is the ones with twist ties. The newer tape is stiffer, so I had to punch holes. Those are on with cloth strips made from an old t shirt. I think the main idea is for them to swing around and blow in the wind to catch and reflect light, sort of like shining lasers at them.

So far these work better for me than plastic owls and netting. I e used them on blueberries and cherries and on red flesh apples.

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I have never noticed bird problem with my illini blackberry, but they have some serious thorns.

I have ouachita and illini about to ripen now… I wondered if they would be trouble on the ouachita since no thorns.

They do wear our my blueberries, jostaberries, currants, and goumi berries.
When you have fewer berries, you really notice the ones that go missing.

I have seen crows eating my peaches in the past too.

I may have to try some of this flashy stuff and see if it helps.

Is there a particular brand that you found to be best ?

Found this on Amazon - looks very similar to yours.



@tnhunter, that does look like what I use. I hope it helps. Good luck!

Nice display of various techniques, interesting to see another chainlink fence grower. I went with the option to enclose most sides and roof chainlink with chickenwire but due to some gaps bought a 1"x150ft role on Amazon for less than $5 delivered. I tried to get link and did search again but no luck. It is fairly thin and the 1" width allows one to just tie* it in a simple knot. More strips to be added soon.

Forgot to add, old CD/DVDs work well and can be hung with thread or fishing line.

I found a few Ponca on one of my first year plants today. I planted these in a row, but also put in a bunch of determinate paste tomatoes, peppers and some cucamelons between them that have now grown up so it is crowded and a bit hard to see all of the Ponca’s growth. I’ll let the Poncas have all the space next year, but thought they could share this year while they’re small.

These tasted very good, but not quite as sweet as I had hoped, maybe from being shaded by the other plants. But the flavor was definitely a bit richer or fuller than other thornless I’ve tasted. I look forward to seeing what they do next year.

Anyone else get a taste this year?


Not too much talk about blackberries this time of year but I wanted to give an update on my Poncas. They seem to be pretty vigorous. Hurricane Ida did a number on the leaves but my plants have bounced back a little. I tip pruned all my plants at about 40” and the laterals are 4-5’ in length now. I just let them go to see what to expect from them. I may winter prune the laterals back to 24” or so to see how big a berry they will make.


Here’s an interesting article comparing Ponca to other varieties. Unfortunately, information is only from 1 year so we can’t see what sort of variability that would surely exist.

Here’s the information from the patent. It states that Ponca ripens 2 days prior to Caddo and Osage which doesn’t sound like a big deal if earliness is what we’re emphasizing. What concerns me more is it states that the fruiting period is 55 days starting June 3rd somewhere in Arkansas. This would surely stretch past August where I am in Pennsylvania right into SWD season. It definitely sounds like a sweeter, and less acidic berry though.