Saturday Spotlight: Apache Blackberry

I’m venturing out of the world of vegetables and herbs for today’s spotlight, which is all about one of my favorite fruits: Apache Blackberry. Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of Apache. This thornless blackberry produces lots of large, sweet, and juicy berries. And the thornfree canes stand upright on their own and don’t need trellising, which makes it easy to grow.

Apache thornless blackberries are big and sweet

Apache thornless blackberries are big and sweet

Apache is one of the varieties developed out of the University of Arkansas blackberry breeding program. It was released in 1998, and I first planted it a few years after that at my old place in Kentucky. It did well there, and when it came time to plant blackberries here at Happy Acres, Apache was on my very short list. It quickly became our favorite, outshining another Arkansas variety we planted called Arapaho, and beating my old standby Triple Crown which is about half the size of Apache and has semi-erect canes that are prone to flopping over.

Apache plants are upright and don

Apache plants are upright and don’t need trellising

Right about now in late May our Apache plants are still flowering, and some of the earliest blossoms are starting to develop into berries. Apache typically starts ripening around the first of July here, and we continue to get berries for about a month.

Apache blackberries in bloom

Apache blackberries in bloom this May

young Apache blackberry

young Apache blackberry

Not all of the berries are as large as the ones in the below photo, but the big berries aren’t rare either. And of course, big berries do make for big harvests. In 2011, our six Apache plants produced 30 pounds of berries.

Apache blackberries

Apache blackberries

In our garden, the Apache blackberry has proven to be an all-star performer for us. If you’re looking for a thornless blackberry for your garden, you might consider giving Apache a try. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Saturday Spotlight, and I’ll be back soon with another variety.

To see my other Saturday Spotlights, visit the Variety Spotlights page.

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16 Responses to Saturday Spotlight: Apache Blackberry

  1. Michelle says:

    Those berries are amazing! Beautiful, productive, and I’m sure they’re delicious too. I wonder if they would do well in my climate – gotta check it out, just a couple of plants would make me happy if they do as well as yours.

  2. Lisa Peterson says:

    Villager, how many Apache plants produced those 30 lbs of beautiful berries?

  3. Pingback: Saturday Spotlight on Sunday – Kipfler Potatoes | Suburban Tomato

  4. Liz says:

    They look divine. I love the taste of blackberries but they are very much weeds here. When I was a kid we used to go blackberrying on the road side and pick enough to stuff our selves as well as making jam. These days though they re often sprayed by landcare groups so its ill-advised to pick them to eat.

    • Dave says:

      One nice thing about Apache (and other thornless types) is that it doesn’t spread. The plants get bigger with age, but it doesn’t creep like thorny blackberries or raspberries.

  5. Christina says:

    This post made me drool. A non-creeping, thornless blackberry? I wonder how they’d do around here. I must research this more . . .

  6. James says:

    Beautiful berries! I’m new to planting Apache – do you have any pruning tips? Yours look like the best maintained, upright blackberries grown without trellis support that I’ve seen so far. I’m planning to grow mine without trellis support as well, so I’d sure appreciate any tips. Have you tried the UofA’s new upright thornless cultivar Ouchita? It’s supposed to have the same basic growing habit, yield, berry quality, etc as Apache but is an earlier bloomer, extending the berry season by 7-10 days when planted in conjunction with Apache. Thanks for your report about Arapahoe too – I planted a few of them just to extend the season by an additional week, but I understand it’s an inferior cultivar in most other respects in comparison to Apache & Ouchita. Thanks!

    • Dave says:

      Hi James,

      We prune the new blackberry canes at somewhere between 36-48 inches. That causes them to put out lateral shoots on the canes after they are pruned, and increases production when the canes fruit the next year. It does take a few years before the canes grow big enough in thickness to stand up well on their own, but our Apaches do stay upright pretty well.

      We planted several Ouachita and Natchez in 2011, and got our first good taste of them last year. Ouachita was tasty and medium sized, while Natchez rivaled Apache for both taste and size. We plan on growing Apache and Natchez going forward.

  7. Echo Wu says:

    Hi Dave,

    Do you mind sharing where you have purchased your apache blackberry plants? After reading several posts by you on apache, I am very interested in growing some. I was looking at Stark Brothers but apache blackberry is not available this year. Thank you.

    • Dave says:

      Hi Echo,

      I bought my Apache plants from Starks. They were part of the Southern Sampler back in 2007 when I got them. I got my Natchez blackberries from Indiana Berry, and they carry Apache also. I’ve gotten a lot of plants from Indiana Berry, and they are normally quite good in quality and service. Natchez and Apache are both my current favorite blackberries at the moment.

      • Echo Wu says:


        Thank you for the information. I have ordered both Apache and Natchez from Indiana Berry. The prices for these blackberry were great, too. When we have our blackberries in the summer, we will be thinking of you and Our Happy Acres. Thanks again!

  8. kcarpenter says:

    I know your article is from a few years back but hoping you see my question.
    Is it possible to plant these blackberries in pots and have them produce?
    If you see my question thanks for any information.

  9. Ellen Rubenstein Rubenstein Chelmis says:

    Can the thornless varieties be grown from seed?

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