Question of the Week
Answer: First, it's difficult to recommend any raspberry varieties for that area. The OSU Extension's Blackberry and Raspberry Culture for the Home Garden, available at http://osufacts.okstate.edu, recommends against planting raspberries. Oklahoma and Arkansas have always been at the southern limit of raspberry adaptation, and these last few summers have made that even more so.
With that said, ‘Heritage’ raspberries will grow by giving them partial shade and some cooling overhead irrigation on the hottest days when they have fruit. Research shows that just 30 minute sprinkle irrigation in the hottest part of the day will greatly improve yields and eliminate "crumbly berry."
Also, you will occasionally hear someone recommend 'Dormanred' raspberry for the South. 'Dormanred' is technically a raspberry but lacks the musky flavor of most popular raspberry varieties.
Blackberries are easier. The series of blackberries from the University of Arkansas (mostly from breeder Dr. James N. Moore) are recommended for almost all of Oklahoma. Here are the descriptions from the OSU bulletin:
Arapaho—an erect, thornless blackberry. The fruit are medium-sized, firm, and have excellent flavor, ripening about two weeks earlier than Navaho. Arapaho was released in 1993. The fruit flavor is superior to semi-erect thornless blackberries. Since Arapaho has not been widely planted, its disease resistance is not thoroughly tested.
Cherokee—an erect, thorned blackberry. The fruit are large and firm, with excellent flavor, ripening in mid-season. Root cuttings are readily successful as a propagation method. A disease control program is recommended.
Cheyenne—an erect, thorned blackberry. The fruit are very large throughout the season. The flavor is slightly better than Comanche but not as good as Cherokee. Cheyenne has smaller seeds than Cherokee. The fruit ripen in mid-season, slightly earlier than Cherokee. Root cuttings are readily successful as a propagation method. This variety is moderately tolerant to anthracnose, but a disease control program is recommended.
Choctaw—an erect, thorned blackberry. The fruit are medium-sized and firm, with small seeds. They have better flavor than Cheyenne and Shawnee. Fruit ripen early in the season, about nine days before Cherokee. Root cuttings are readily successful for propagation. This variety is moderately resistant to anthracnose but is occasionally attacked by powdery mildew. It is known to be hardy to -14° F in Arkansas.
Navaho—an erect, thornless blackberry. The fruit are large and firm and are less tart than other thornless varieties. They ripen late in the season, about 12 days after Cherokee. This variety is moderately resistant to anthracnose and is known to be hardy to -14° F in Arkansas. This is a higher quality blackberry than almost any before it.
For more information on bramble fruits, see ATTRA publication Organic Culture of Bramble Fruits at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=15. This publication focuses on organic production practices for blackberry and raspberry production. Included are discussions of site selection and preparation; fertility; weed, disease, and insect management; greenhouse production of raspberries; and economics and marketing.
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