Varietal Trials - Cane Fruits

A list of blackberries, raspberries, and other cane fruits Trialed to date on the farm

  • Green text = productive varieties
  • Season: early = 1st of August, mid = 15th of August, late = late August/early Sept.
  • All raspberries are planted in the ground
  • Explanation: (R) = red, (Y) = yellow, (P) = purple, (B) = black

(R) Autumn Britten – plant stock was dead on arrival.

(R) Latham – disappointing “cold hardy variety” that produces okay-tasting berries, low vigor here.  Less affected by fluctuating winter temps than Boyne. Midseason.

(R) Boyne – Berries are tart, plants are productive as long as temperatures aren’t too cold.  Fluctuating winter temperatures result in extensive cane death. Early season.

(R) Cascade Delight – “Zone 6” surprise!  While not completely cold hardy (dies back above midwinter snow line at temperatures of -35F and colder), this variety produced most of the raspberries I harvested after the tough 2012-13 winter season.  Fluctuating winter temperatures appeared to have no effect on productiveness of this variety.  Slow to establish and likely requires more heat than we have at the farm for optimal growth.  Flavor here is rather mild compared to other red raspberries, but it is much sweeter. Needs trellising or will droop to the ground. Long laterals make picking easy. Early/mid season.

(R) Heritage – One of my favorites, but is not very cold hardy.  Primocane crop does not ripen, but still get fair production from fluoricanes. Mid-late season.

(R) Newburgh – Older plants from 2007 that survived 4 years in pots.  Not cold hardy enough, but flavor is among the best.  Berries ripen unevenly. Mid/Late season

(R) Meeker – Vigorous (4-5ft canes), but not cold hardy.  Canes die back completely in all but the warmest winters.

(R) Kiska – sour and small, but very hardy.  One of few that was unaffected by fluctuating winter temperatures. Initially a vigorous grower, but failed to return after a few years. Early/midseason.

(R) Canby – Surprisingly hardy “thornless” variety.  Not grown in colder climates of Lower 48, but my neighbor and I get fairly consistent crops each year of delicious berries (if the moose don’t prune them).  And the lack of thorns on the fruiting laterals means no blood lost. One of the better tasting raspberries for me.  Midseason.

(R) Durham – plant stock was dead on arrival.  Likely too late to produce here, even on fluoricanes.

(R) Tulameen – Not cold hardy enough.  Canes die back to ground in all but the warmest winters.  Ripens very late or not at all.

(R) K-81-6 (2013)– Late, cold hardy variety.  Initial observations during its first summer (2013) indicated it may not ripen any berries before the first frost. As this plant has adapted, it now ripens much earlier in the summer. It is one of the hardiest raspberries on the farm. A bit on the tart side, but reliable producer regardless of the winter. And, it has survived in a pot for years.

(R) Killarney (2013) – Produced super large berries its first summer here!  Sibling of Boyne, but a week later.  Moderate vigor.

(R) Nova – supposedly a good variety where winter temperatures fluctuate.  Ours seemed particularly susceptible to root rot.  All died before the first summer ended. One or two still remain from a second trial. Still evaluating.

(R) Willamette (2013) – Vigorous, but hardiness remains to be seen.  One of earliest raspberries in Lower 48.

(R) Prelude (2013) – Earliest red raspberry.  Was slow to establish.  Not very winter hardy.

(Y) Cascade Gold – Not hardy below -25F, but best tasting of all the yellows. Ripens most of its crop. A favorite of wasps.

(Y) Fall Gold – by far one of my favorite yellow raspberry. Has naturalized on its own. Primocane fruit doesn’t ripen, but in good year fluoricane production is ample and almost all of it ripens.  Continues to ripen into October if not too cold!  Susceptible to fluctuating winter temperatures. Midseason.

(Y) Honey Queen – hardier than Fall Gold, but I donմ care for the flavor as much.  Flavor is milder and sweeter than Fall Gold.  Unaffected by fluctuating winter temperatures.  Slow to establish.  Thornier than Fall Gold and not as erect.  Fruit may weigh down canes so it touches ground. Early season.

(Y) Anne (2013)– Still evaluating – has been in a pot for several years.  Is supposed to be earlier than Fall Gold.

(Y) Kiwi Gold (2013) – too new to evaluate, but berries were more orange than yellow and were tasty. These died out.

(P) Brandywine – Not cold hardy enough.  Canes do not appear to survive the winter.

(P) Glencoe – new purple raspberry from Scotland.  Plants were slow to establish due to extreme conditions experienced shortly after we received them.  They froze back completely to the ground with the first freeze of the fall 2013.  Not particularly cold hardy. All are assumed to be dead as they can’t be found in the weedy patch.

(B) Black Hawk – plant stock dead on arrival during first trial. During second trial, few emerged the second year, and none the third.

(B) Cumberland – not particularly cold hardy, but berries have excellent flavor.  In summer 2013, four year old plants produced 6 ft long canes.  Fruiting laterals do not develop very well, even with summer tip pruning, so production (if any) will be limited.  Long canes extend above winter snow line and likely will suffer cold injury.  Susceptible to fluctuating winter temperatures. None returned in 2014. Mid season

(B) Logan – I have two different plants labeled “Logan” that fruit at different times (one early and one midseason).  Neither is very cold hardy, but the berries are flavorful and similar.  Winter 2012-13 appeared to be particularly hard on this variety.  Growth of new canes was stunted. Appears to have died out.

(B) Dundee – plant stock dead on arrival. Variety is hard to get.

(B) Bristol (2013) – Vigorous!!! And tip roots in just about anything (including gravel)!!  First year canes were trailing, but should be more arching in future years.  Very, very thorny.  All from two different trials eventually died out.

(B) Huron (2013) – Received small plants, but eventually took off once established. Never fruited. Mysteriously, they never emerged the 4th summer.

(B) Jewel (2013) – Lost all from first trial. Second trial has shown more promise. Sweet berries, typical black raspberry richness. Fairly vigorous and ripen mid/late season. Trial continues.

(B) Mac Black (2013) – Failed to return after first winter.

(B) Munger (2013) – Different name for “Bristol”. All died out.

(B) Wyoming Black – grows well and produces fruit elsewhere in Fairbanks. Tart, seedy fruit. Trial continues.

  • Green text = productive varieties
  • All blackberries are planted in the ground
  • (E) = erect, (SE) = semi-erect/arching, (T) = trailing, (+) = thorny, (-) = thornless
  • All crowns are planted 2 inches deep for added protection

(E-) Apache – Newer variety that may be later than Navajo, less hardy.  Died back to ground first winter. Eventually died out

(E-) Arapahoe – Have had this variety on trial for a number of years.  Survived one winter in a pot with significant root damage and total cane loss.  Canes usually die back to the ground each winter.  However, the crowns appear to survive the winter without protection.

(E+) Black Satin – 2013 was first summer, so too early to evaluate, but is not particularly cold hardy. Didn’t return after 3 years, even with winter protection

(T+) Boysenberry – cross between blackberry and raspberry.  Some report it is cold hardy with some protection.  Lost most of canes to cold injury first winter (without protection).

(SE-) Chester – supposedly the most cold-tolerant blackberry.  Is successfully grown (and ripens fruit) in Edmonton, AB.  Eventually died out. Some survival of canes over the winter, but never flowered – so probably cold damage. Ended trial.

(E+) Chickasaw – to new to evaluate, but primocane fruiting will be too late for here. Died out after a few years.

(E+) Darrow – a hardy eastern variety.  We had one small plant that lasted probably 5 years, then didn’t return.

(E+) Ebony King – decided to plant this variety after it survived in pots over the winter with significant root injury and cane damage.  Quite vigorous the second year.  Canes were thick.  Appeared to suffer significant injury to the cane ends during the first frost. Continues to return (2020), but the canes either die back to the ground or are severely injured (no flowers) every winter.

(T+) Marionberry – very thorny and purportedly not winter hardy below +10F.  Has been a surprise for us. It ripens late in the season, with the first berry picked the end of August. Can get small crop off of it if the fall is warm or it is covered in a low tunnel. However, crop is small due to winter damage to canes and buds – even with significant protection.

(T+) Obsidian – Similar to Marionberry.  Plants died over first winter – even the crowns.  Appear prone to being blown around in high winds – to the point of breaking off canes. Didn’t return after first winter. Crowns died on every plant – so not even as hardy as Marion.

(E+) Prime Ark 45 – supposed to be a relatively early primocane blackberry, but is likely too late for here. Died out after 2 year.

(T+) Silvan – showed above average vigor for a blackberry summer 2012.  Continues to be vigorous and very thorny. Produces a few berries some years, if well protected over the winter. Tasty berries – similar to boysenberry.

(SE-)Triple Crown – noted as somewhat earlier than Chester, but nearly has cold hardy.  Has returned every year, but canes do not survive the winter and is still a very small plant.

(T-) Wild Treasure – (“Zone 7”) Possibly the best bet for blackberries at the farm!  WT grows at a moderate pace all summer (as opposed to all others, which grow mostly during latter half of summer) and shows signs of going dormant by late August.  Leaves mostly dormant by end of September.  Canes are rigid and must be handled carefully in spring to avoid breaking them.  Routinely produces over a dozen canes each summer from a crown that is now (2020) about 10 inches across. Trained into hoops that are laid down and covered over the winter. The wild parent of this variety was acquired at 3,000 ft. in the Cascade Mtns of Oregon, where the summer climate is much like that here at the farm.  Growing season is longer and winter temperatures are much more mild, but frost can come early some years.  Aside from moderate winter damage, this variety is well suited to the farm. Have harvested up to 4 lbs from a single plant. Fruit is rich and strawberry flavored with a bit of blackberry tang at the end. Small, but very uniform berries. Continuing to experiment with winter protection to increase cane survival. Easily grown through weed block.

(T-) Black Diamond (2013) – (“Zone 6”) moderate vigor, susceptible to drought stress, winter cold damages roots. Trial continues (2020). Flavor has been highly variable – some taste great, others taste okay, but off. Winter cane survival can be better than Wild Treasure or Marion, but there are often quite a few blind nodes. Have over a dozen plants and usually get berries off of at least a few of them. Bigger berries than Wild Treasure.

(E+) Cherokee – Died out quickly.

(E+) Cheyenne – Died out quickly.

(E+) Choctaw (2013) – earliest of the eastern blackberries, but lacks cold tolerance. Died out after 2 years.

(E+) Comanche (2013) – Died out quickly.

(SE-) Doyle’s thornless – Slow to establish.  Canes die back to the ground every year. Can’t bend them to the ground without damaging them. The canes are thick and thornless. Flowered a couple of times, but the berries don’t ripen.

(SE-) Hull (2013) – Similar lineage to Chester, but not as hardy.  Earlier than Chester. Died out after a few years.

(E+) Ilini Hardy (2013) – Very vigorous once established, suckers from roots readily.  Has shown hardiness to -24F in field tests. Died out after about 5 years.

(E+) Kiowa – Survived a bad case of root rot during shipment from nursery.  Seems particularly susceptible.  Grew very vigorously after recovering.  Didn’t return after 3 years.

(T+) Kotata (2013) – Died quickly

(SE-) Loch Ness – Died out after 4-5 years. Low vigor. Never flowered.

(E-) Natchez (2013) – Vigorous once established.  Died after 3 years.

(E-) Navajo (2013) – fairly low vigor, appears to need more heat.  Later ripening variety that may not reach maturity here. Died after a few years.

(E+) Nelson () – Has been in a pot for several years (2020). Survives the winter, but has never flowered. Likely too late.

(E-) Ouachita (2013) – Moderately vigorous, great tasting berries for an eastern variety.  First year canes were droopy, but other years are supposed to be upright.  We tasted two berries that came from last yearճ wood formed at a nursery.  They were very good. Lasted the longest of all the U of Ark. varieties, but eventually died out

(E+) Shawnee (2013) – plant material dead on arrival.

(T+) Siskiyou (2013) – very vigorous, flexible canes are thorny.  Easy to coil into circles.  Moderately cold hardy. Easily blown around in strong winds, but canes donմ appear to be damaged – except at the tips. Continues to return (2020) and a few canes survive the winter with protection. Flowers and ripens over a very long period and rarely produces more than a few ripe berries before the first frost.

(T+) Southern Dewberry – We ordered three of these from a nursery this year.  They are very similar to one of the “Ebony King” bushes we got from Lowe’s a few years ago in that both are trailing (whereas Ebony King is erect).  The one from Lowe’s is the most vigorous blackberry plant we have and routinely grows 3 or 4 canes that reach 7 or 8 ft long each summer.  This is one of only two varieties on the farm that produce a significant number of fruiting laterals during the first year the cane grows (the other is Wild Treasure).  Fruiting laterals grow along the lower half of each cane before the season ends.  Some laterals are 3 ft long.  So far, these canes have not survived the winter alive. Eventually, all died out.

(E+) Stenulson – a “Zone 3” blackberry.  Moderate vigor, appears damaged by early (mid-September) freezes. As of 2020, it has spread from two small crowns to an area roughly 6ft x 10ft, so it is hardy here – and invasive. Occasional winter injury to canes. Has never produced edible fruit. Possibly not self-fertile. Will test summer of 2021 by requesting pollen from a ‘Lower 48’ farm. If pollination is successful, this could become a significant producer on the farm. Must be tipped by July 4th to produce flowers the next year (typical erect pruning practice to encourage bud modification to floricane status).

(T-) Thornless Loganberry (2013) – (“Zone 6”) Low vigor, low productivity, but it does produce a little fruit each year. Canes survive without protection during the warmest winters, but we usually try to protect it a little.

(T+) Metolius – Low vigor, canes can survive the winter with adequate protection. Flowers late and ripens fruit very late. This is inconsistent with its ripening season in the Lower 48, where it is among the earliest to ripen. Only get a few berries each summer, if at all.

We had hoped to test a sibling of Wild Treasure, but have been unsuccessful at rooting cuttings received from the Corvallis germplasm office.

Other berries:

(SE+) Tayberry – Sprawling, semi-erect cross between raspberry and blackberry.  Deep blue-green leaves with a reddish margin make this easy to spot among the weeds! If weighted down, the canes will survive mild winters. Is slowly spreading. Fruit is tart unless fully ripe, then a wonderful boysenberry flavor. Low yielding.