Looking for an early blackberry recommendation

I’m currently growing Wild Treasure blackberry; it hasn’t performed well and I’m planning to replace it. It was my earliest blackberry, ripening a week or two before my thornless Boysenberry, which itself precedes Natchez.

I am looking for a better variety in the same ripening window.

Are there early blackberries that you like and can recommend?

Thanks in advance.

I like the taste of Prime Ark Freedom but the jury is still out on how disease resistant it is. It ripened this year 2-3 weeks before my Natchez. I’m slowly adding more while removing the Apache. Bill

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Remind me why you’re finding Apache sub-ideal for your situation.

I’ve been planning to try it. Dr. Clark, Univ of Arkansas, recommends it as the sweetest early for the Mid-Atlantic.

What’s its problem down there in 'Bama? Is Freedom just better? Or did Apache give you trouble?

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I love Obsidian. Great flavor, early, and large berries. For me considerably better than WT. It’s the only thorny worth the trouble for me.

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I won’t speak for Bill, but I’ve also taken out my Apache. The canes always looked great. The berries, however, usually suffered from partial pollination or some other deformity-about 75% of the berries. They also had terrible white drupe problems-perhaps this climate is just too hot for them. In short, they just weren’t very productive.

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To my taste the Apache is a sweet berry. My problem is the high percent of berries that are damaged like the pictures below (60% est damage over 3 year period). I have seen different references as to why this occurs from sun damage to red mites. In contrast my Natchez only has a few that are damaged. My opinion is that even with it’s large seeds it taste better than the Natchez. You might not have the same issue in you area as I do. I’m assuming your weather is cooler so yours might do well. Bill




I like the PAF because it ripens 2-3 weeks earlier than my Natchez. The berries are large and to me sweeter than the Natchez and close to the Apache. I’m still trying to decide if it is a keeper.

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Love my Kiowas - huge berries, but white drupelet can be an issue - and it’s worse this year than in the past, here.
I’ve sent plants to my BIL in Wetumpka, and they grow well for him, but the floricanes seem to ‘blight’ and die back before the fruits ripen.

Grew one of the thornless ‘A’ varieties, years ago… don’t remember which… Apache, Arapaho? Berries not all THAT much larger than the local natives, tart, never reached any reasonable level of sweetness.

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How about Osage? Its the earliest U Ark berry. I have fruited it for a couple years and its been good. The spot I have it in is not very good (little sun) and it still manages to make nice berries.

I tried Wild Treasure for several years and it never produced more than a few berries. It hates cold and it hates heat.

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I’ll second Obsidian and mention Newberry,which ripens about two weeks later. Brady


Obsidian didn’t grow well for me in the heat, I don’t think its an east-tolerant berry. Newberry is a bit better but is also not a heat lover. One thing good about the U Ark berries is they like heat. Vohd I don’t remember where you are.

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Thanks to everyone for the helpful suggestions.

After researching them a bit more, I think that I will go with either Obsidian or Siskiyou. For the benefit of others, here are links to the papers on Obsidian, Siskiyou, another cultivar like Obsidian, Metolius, and Osage.

Both Obsidian and Siskiyou appear impressive. In my location, there appears to be a tradeoff between yield (where Obsidian leads at 28000 vs 13000 kg / ha in one trial) and flavor (where Siskiyou leads–subjective rating of 8.2 vs 7.5 out of 9 where Marion was 8.6). Metolius is, by most criteria, indistinguishable from Obsidian, but I ran across some research that measured Obsidian with higher sugar/acid ratio (Table 3.5 on pg. 102 of this thesis)

Some reports mention that Siskiyou flavor decreases later in the season.

Also a very impressive variety, but its ripening window seems to be later and overlap with another variety that I have

San Francisco Bay Area. I don’t have any cold-hardiness constraints and, by late June, have average temperatures only in the mid 80s.

Thanks again.

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Drew is definitely more knowledgeable than I, but I will give my 1.5 cents

I’ve grown Triple Crown and a locally found variety (my ex-MIL had g own it for years and called it loganberry, but it is not the one commonly known as a loganberry…

I find TC fruits heavily, but the fruits don’t sweeten up enough for me to really enjoy them straight off the vine. Before they are fall apart ripe they are like battery acid to me (and the kids). The local one is better (sweeter, hardier) but doesn’t fruit as heavily.



The first year I grew TC they were really good, but after that I agree with your assessment, Maybe it is just our area or the growing season? I will see how they are this year. I seem to have more sugar in everything so far.

@Vohd Wow you really did your homework. I agree with the results. Marion is the standard to judge all others. I added Siskiyou recently because of the comments by JT who comes here to post occasionally. He is a big brambles grower too.

This year I got tayberries to survive and ripen here, and they are very good! They ripen in the window you’re looking for. The first to ripen here, at least 2 weeks or more ahead of my thorny Boysenberry. Newberry is another decent fruit, still ripening just ahead of my boysenberries.

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Thanks for the additional suggestion, Drew, I’ll look into them.

Has Siskiyou produced for you yet and, if so, how would you compare it with your Tayberries?

No it’s a young plant, no flowers on Siskiyou yet.

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We are enjoying our first Osage harvest now. I find it to be an enjoyable, sweet tasting berry, with the sweetness level being just a tad lower than triple crown. Osage so far appears to be a quite productive with our 2nd year plants loaded with berries but a little less vigorous than other types and easier to keep in a bush form.

Looks like a keeper for my family.


Picked the first Kiowas of the season this weekend… have some neglected canes/vines that I bought some years back, as Kiowa, growing around the chip-pile that were ripe a couple of weeks back… but they’re NOT Kiowa… more of a trailing growth habit and the berries are much smaller.


Hello Scott,

I am reading on your comment that Obsidian isn´t heat tolerant. How hot does it get in you orchard?
I want to try, I don’t have extreme temperatures (below 28 ° C), unusually it gets 30 °C. Consider it a problem?

What problem have you seen with Obsidian blackberries? White druplet disorder, no fruit, no new primocanes? Please your comments are of great value.