It’s a rare day indeed when I dig up a live, producing plant to replace it with another one. It’s even rarer for me to dig up FIVE of them! But that’s what just happened today here at HA.
The Arapaho blackberry got voted off the island by the Management Team (aka my wife and I). I guess you could say it was no match for its neighbor and cousin Apache. The Arapaho was smaller, less productive, and not really all that tasty to us, so it is OUTTA HERE! Whew. I hate having to do that to any plant. At least they weren’t too hard to dig up.
The Apache berries have proven to be some of the biggest and best tasting thornless blackberries I’ve ever grown, and I’ve grown a lot of different varieties over the years. It has become the standard by which we judge other blackberries.
We also grow the Triple Crown variety here, and though the berries aren’t as big as Apache’s, it has a taste that rivals it, plus the big, sprawling plants yield a lot of berries.
Blackberries are a big deal here. They are the easiest to grow and most productive berry here in our part of the world. These relatively new varieties are very hardy, and pests and diseases are rarely a problem. And last year we harvested a whopping 61 pounds of them from our 3 year old plantings. That works out to somewhere between 10-12 gallons of them. When the plants hit their peak in a few years the yield should be even higher.
The new varieties I planted today are Ouachita and Natchez. These are Arkansas developed varieties like Navajo, Apache and Arapaho. The Natchez fruit is supposed to be as big as Apache, though not quite as sweet. The Ouachita compares favorably with Apache in taste, but isn’t as large.
The Ouachita were bare root whips, and the Natchez came as potted tissue culture plants. I ordered both from the nearby Indiana Berry. I put some fencing around the Natchez as I thought they looked too much like ‘deer candy’ to leave them uncovered. We’ll give them the best of care, and see how they shape up next to our other varieties. Our overall blackberry production will take a hit for a year or two, but we’ve got plenty in the freezer and if these new ones work out well, it will all be worth it a few years down the road.