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March 19, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Sorting the Blackberries out

Last weekend we moved the blackberry supports to the other allotment and planted two new plants, we chose Blackberry ‘Black Butte’ and B. ‘Bedford Giant’, both selected for taste and not convenience as they both seem to have small thorns. We will have to wait and see if a thornless variety may have been easier to live with. The ground between the plants is covered with a membrane and then covered with a bark mulch, so ensuring that little weeding will be required. 
A recent introduction from the Oregon breeding programme, Black Butte, right, is notable for its exceptional fruit size of over 11gms. The berries are attractive, uniformly shaped, firm with a good flavour. Black Butte is an early season variety, ripening in mid July. The variety is winter hardy and the canes are vigorous and trailing. The fruit is well presented on strong laterals.
The plus points of Bedford Giant, left, are that it’s an early cropper, offering ripe sweet fruits in late July and August and those fruits are both large in number and brilliant for freezing. There is a downside or two to Bedford Giant though: it’s a particularly prickly blackberry, which can make picking its heavy crop load into a rather painful experience, and it’s not called giant by accident. You need to allow an eight foot spread for most blackberries and this one is very keen to take up all that space and a bit more – it’s really vigorous even in poor years and in a position with full sun you don’t want to don’t plant them too close together or you can’t harvest the fruit. On the other hand, if you need a blackberry plant to act as a screen or deterrent as well as a fruiting plant, this one is definitely top of the list!
It is little known that botanists separate the raspberries from blackberries by determining if the core stays in the ripe fruit or if the core is lost during picking. Berries with the core intact are blackberries and berries that lose the core and resemble a thimble, are raspberries. A few berries are a cross between the two. The loganberry keeps its core intact and is classified as a blackberry.

We still have to plant our Loganberry and Tayberry, more of which later. Tayberry has a core that sometimes sticks to the fruit and sometimes comes free of the fruit-especially if over-ripe. Both the Loganberry and Tayberry are a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry. Due to growth habits they are classified as trailing blackberries. Among the trailing blackberries we include many well known varieties such as Boysenberry and Marionberry.


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