Prime Ark® Freedom Blackberry

Prime Ark® Freedom is the fourth release from Dr. John Clark and University of Arkansas’s primocane breeding program.

Did anybody grow these thornless blackberries last year?

Any photos, suggestions or comments?


David. I would also like to here more from people that have grown the Freedom for a full cycle. Most of the people that post are using the prime thorn varieties as similar comparisons. I have high hopes for this plant filling some of my desires in a blackberry plant. My three Freedom blackberries were fall plantings and did not grow much. Good luck, Bill

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@Auburn Bill, I ordered some from Stark Bros so I guess i’ll post photos and report back here at the end of the season.

I hear Dr Clark has more thornless blackberries to be released soon.

This is good news because the older I get the less I tolerate thorns.


I got mine as a tiny TC last year. This will be its first full season. All I can say so far is that it seems to be taking the ups and downs of our winters in stride.
I’ll share more as the season progresses.

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I’ve just started growing this as well. Received smallish plants last year but they should put on a small crop this year. I’ve resolved to no longer grow the thorned blackberries, thornless are much easier to handle.

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I have high hopes for Prime Ark Freedom and I look forward to experiences from other growers in a climate similar to mine. From what I can determine, the Primocane crop does not do well in a hot climate like mine (NC), but the early summer crop does, and should be a week or more ahead of Natchez. Just the fact that the new primocane plant is thornless is a huge breakthrough

The University of Arkansas has an awesome breeding program for Blackberries and I have grown 7 of their variety on a small commercial scale over the years, but they promote each new variety heavily and the new variety are not always better than the older variety. I currently grow Natchez, Oauchita and Navajo. Navajo is an older variety they do not promote. It is off patent but the flavor and sweetness is much preferred by my customers. If I was only going to grow one variety in my area it would be Navajo.

Here is a link to a U of A presentation on Blackberry Variety including Prime Ark:


Blue. Thanks for posting the link. Ripening a week ahead of Natchez is all I need to make this plant worthwhile. The hotter it gets the more sun damage I get. In my area Natchez mostly gets by but any others that ripen later are a challenge. I hope to get a few late ones off the Freedom just to snack on. Great link. Bill

I grow Natchez, Oauchita, Navajo, Osage, Triple Crown, Prime Jan and Ark 45. All are very good when picked at the right time, pick to early its sour and to late its spoiled. Natchez is my least favorite. Navajo is easily my favorite because if its turned black its ready to eat, a sweet berry every time, very consistent, very under rated. Planted a Newberry last year and was surprised to see it produce 2 berries that were outstanding. I am excited to see how they do with a full crop.

2 years ago we had a wet cool summer in SC and I had a ok primocane crop on Prime Jan and a good crop on Ark 45. Last year was hot and about average rain and I had no primocane crop on Prime Jan and little on Ark 45. This year I am going to mulch the blackberries to see if this helps with ground temps during the summer. I also don’t fertilize any after July but will start doing more on my primocane blackberries to see if this helps. I am adding one Freedom this year to see how they compare to the other primocane berries. Prime Jan is one of my better summer tasting berries, sweet but also because of the texture, it has a nice firm crunch that is unique to that variety. The summer crop on primocane varieties do ripen about 2 weeks before my other blackberries. I had planed to just mow down the canes in the fall and not have a summer crop but the taste and early season made me keep the floricanes.


c5tiger- Must be Clemson

How does Triple Crown do in the SC heat? Also, is the flavor or Osage close to flavor and sweetness promoted by U of A? How does Osage compare with Navajo?

It is for Clemson but I live near Santee.

I have 2 triple crown plants that have done very little for me and I don’t know why. The plants look healthy but the berries shrivel up right before they ripen or turn white from I think sun damage. I get a hand full of berries each year that are really good and taste much different than the U of A berries. I pulled one up 2 weeks ago and replaced it with Kiowa.

The Osage I got last year and it produced a few berries that tasted about like the other Ark varieties, it is too early for me to give an opinion on them at this time. I should know more this summer.

One variety I would like to try is Von released by NCST. I have not seen any reviews of this berry other than the nursery description. If triple crown doesn’t get its act together it may get replaced by Von next year.

c5tiger. Kiowa is heavily panted in u pick farms in my area so they must be doing well. I don’t like the thorns so my backyard is all thornless. My TC have done OK but not great. The heat at ripening time may be causing the problems. Good luck, Bill

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So far so good.
Prime Ark Freedom are vigorous plants and growing well.
Not a hint of a thorn, smooth as a baby’s butt.


David, those PAF (Prime Ark Freedom) plants are looking niiiiiiice. Such a large, well kept area for your berries. Do you run a Pick Your Own operation, or stand sales? Or are all those just for your own pleasure?

When did you put those in the ground? This spring or in the fall? Were they tissue culture (TC)? Is that enough questions for one post?

We had 5 small TC plants from Nourse that arrived in March. Two of them each set one berry about 4 1/2 weeks ago. Another is forming some buds now. We may have to share those few berries to get a hint of what they taste like.

The only other cultivated blackberries we have are two Navaho that a son dragged home from clearance at Lowe’s last year. They started blooming about 3 weeks ago and still have at least another week’s worth of young buds. It was rainy and chilly the first week they were blooming. Too cool and windy for the bees to want to be out. But they set on their own. It looks like we’ll get a decent amount of berries from those two plants. We are looking forward to tasting them. I hope they are as good as the descriptions in this thread.

We have wild blackberries all over the property. I’m constantly ripping them out, but have a daughter who complains about that because she enjoys picking and eating them so much. I’m hoping these thornless, non-invasive varieties will satisfy the blackberry lovers here and help save my legs from being ripped up, and plants strangled, by the wild ones.

We planted the berries where they get some shade during the day from tall trees, in a somewhat cooler area of the yard. The reason for that was because the wild ones seem to do best when they have shade instead constant sun here.

You’ll probably have some of the PAF to eat before we do. I hope you return to the thread to give your report.

David your PAF look great. The three I have are starting to grow and they range from 18"-30". I was just wondering if you plan to tip the tops and at what height. I’m considering tipping my three at different heights such as 36", 42", and 48" just to get a good feel as the best way to prune going forward. Hope we both get a sample of the late berries this year. Good luck, Bill

I plan to tip them at 36", spread some laterals,let one go to the top then tip that.
I don’t know if they will fill the space but I’m hopeful. This spot gets afternoon shade so that might help with a fall crop.

I planted these this spring, they came from Stark Bros. I think they are from Tissue Culture,
It looks like these will be very low chill 300-400hr so the floricanes may work well here in the deep south.
providing some very early berries.

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Primacane buds on one of my Freedom Blackberry.

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I’m getting excited. Looks like I might a few Freedom berries off my primacanes.


Bill, how are yours taking the heat? It’s been over 100, usually around 104 here every day for the past few weeks. We had a short Tstorm here the other night, but most of the month has required watering. Of course, it’s been humid, too, with heat index in the teens.

The cane in your pic looks tall and healthy. I have one tall cane once it gets propped back up off the ground. The rest are not growing quickly now and appear to be heat stressed. I do have some developing berries, but only a few on some canes, and others with none.

Considering that my Freedoms are just getting there roots established I think they are handling the heat well. Our highs have been 96-99 degrees for a few days now and I’m watering my newly planted fruits and berries daily. As long as I keep up the watering they seem ok. The Freedom that I posted is my tallest one. I tipped it at about 3.5’ and it shot up two side branches that are now about 6.5’. The other ones that I have are smaller but most seem to be doing well. I know these are supposed to be upright plants but I used a 3’ stake to tie these to as they grew upward. I really think that the stake helps keep the roots stable at least for one year. I’m still optimistic that Freedom will be a keeper. It is great to be able to compare plants in a similar location. Bill

I’m new to the forum and to the fruit growing. I am in east Texas and have planted Prime Ark Freedom. With the torrential rains this year only 6 of my barefoot plants survived but seem to be doing well now even though they are small and missed a lot of growth time while “swimming”. I ordered some root cuttings to replace those lost and have sprouted 8 out of eleven so far but some have just broken the surface. These are in pots in my greenhouse at present. My question is what advice about planting these small potted berry plants. Do I wait until fall and have more root development or put them out before then to let them establish somewhat in the ground before winter? Our average frost date is November 15. Our temperatures are in low to mid 90’s here and that is unseasonably cool for us.

Its nice to see the photos of the plants that have been posted and I hope the variety lives up to its expectations.